ISLANDERS 4, WASHINGTON 1
By Jason Lockhart
On a night when Bob Bourne entered the Islanders Hall of Fame, Jason Blake showed 13,214 spectators his Bourne-like quickness to score the game-winner. The Islanders picked up their third win over Thanksgiving weekend by defeating the Washington Capitals 4-1 Saturday night.
Rick DiPietro stopped 33 shots and Blake scored two goals to put the Islanders five games over .500.
The Islanders first power play clicked to give them a 1-0 lead. Alexei Yashin got the puck back to Sean Hill and instead of shooting it, made a perfect pass to Blake parked at the side of the net. Blake tapped it home for his 13th goal -- the eighth on the power play -- with five minutes remaining in the first period.
The final five minutes of the first period saw the Islanders penalty killers go to work. After taking three consecutive penalties, the Islanders killed off over two minutes of a 5-on-3 man advantage. Spectacular goaltending from DiPietro kept the Islanders on top.
Blake made it 2-0 on a highlight-reel goal, 1:18 into the second period. While on the rush, Chris Simon fed Yashin, who flipped it over to Blake. The Minnesota native busted down the left wing past former Islander John Erskine and went around netminder Olaf Kolzig before putting it in on the backhand while flying through the air.
Chris Simon mixed it up with Erskine with 3:23 left in the second period. Both players traded heavy blows before falling to the ice to loud cheers from the crowd.
It was 3-0 after a scramble in front. Alexei Zhitnik˜s shot from the point could not be covered by Kolzig, so Richard Park picked up the loose change and banged it home with 1:20 left in the second period. Park's third goal of the season was also assisted by Arron Asham.
Alex Ovechkin cut the lead to 3-1 scoring off a rebound on the power, 2:48 into the third period.
Trent Hunter sealed the game in the final 50 seconds, scoring the Islanders' first shorthanded goal of the season. Hunter's empty-net goal led to "first place" chants from the Coliseum crowd.
Richard Park: "It was encouraging that we got the first goal of the game. Our penalty kill was spectacular. The guys were really working hard out there. Once we realized what type of game we have to play to win, we've played much better. Fortunately we've been getting some good breaks."
Ted Nolan: "It was great for our team to get a win for Bob Bourne tonight. What I like best about the team tonight was the way we competed. A good example of that was Radek Martinek fending off Ovechkin towards the end of the game. That's the type of play we're looking for."
Jason Blake: "You work for your success and recently the bounces have been going our way. It's a good feeling to be in first place, but that can come and go. We still have a lot of work ahead of us."
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Jason Blake: Two goals, including the game-winner
2. Rick DiPietro: Another strong performance for his ninth win of the season
3. Sean Hill: Two assists and five hits
4. Alex Ovechkin: Scored the lone Washington goal
5. Alexei Yashin: Two helpers
Stat of the Game: Tom Poti logged 24:09 of ice time.
Fan of the Game: Bob Durante originally from Brooklyn proudly sported his No. 14 Bob Bourne jersey to tonight's game. "It feels great to be here," said Bob. "I've had this jersey for the longest time. I think it's great that he's being honored. I remember watching an interview from 1983 when Billy Smith said how unbelievably Bourne stepped up during the playoffs with players injured. I thought he gave the Islanders a psychological edge with his speed."
Slapshots: Jason Blake and Alexei Yashin are on five-game point-scoring streaks...Sean Hill is now on a four-game point-scoring streak...The Islanders are five games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season.
Game Operations: It was Bob Bourne's night and what a night it was. Howie Rose was masterful as MC and all the Islanders greats in attendance were heartfelt with their speeches. Bourne's tribute video included his famous end-to-end rush against the Rangers in the 1983 playoffs. The goal was replayed in slow motion, so that every subtle move was captured by the 13,214 spectators. Bourne's speech was moving as he thanked the Islanders organization and its fans. Bourne received a Hall of Fame watch and his banner will hang from the rafters until next year's inductee enters the Hall.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
3 Tom Poti - 8 Bruno Gervais
32 Brendan Witt - 24 Radek Martinek
77 Alexei Zhitnik - 6 Sean Hill
12 Chris Simon - 79 Alexei Yashin - 55 Jason Blake
7 Trent Hunter - 16 Mike York - 81 Miroslav Satan
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 25 Viktor Kozlov
45 Arron Asham - 17 Shawn Bates - 10 Richard Park
37 Olaf Kolzig
1 Brent Johnson
26 Shaone Morrisonn - 2 Brian Pothier
4 John Erskine - 44 Steve Eminger
47 Bryan Muir - 52 Mike Green
17 Chris Clark - 9 Dainius Zubrus - 8 Alexander Ovechkin
38 Jakub Klepis - 18 Matt Pettinger 20 Richard Zednik
10 Matt Bradley - 16 Brian Sutherby - 27 Ben Clymer
21 Brooks Laich - 24 Kris Beech - 14 Eric Fehr