ATLANTA 5, ISLANDERS 4, OT
By Jason Lockhart
The Islanders climbed back to tie the game after being down 3-0, but Ilya Kovalchuk's wrist shot 2:59 into overtime beat Mike Dunham to prevent the Isles from earning the extra point. The Atlanta Thrashers claimed victory by the score of 5-4 Friday night at Philips Arena.
Dunham, who replaced Rick DiPietro early in the first period after the Islanders went down 3-0, played a solid game stopping 26 of 28 shots.
Shane Hnidy scored the first goal of the game off a wrist shot from the right circle, 3:05 into the first period for a 1-0 Thrashers lead.
It became 2-0 Atlanta when Steve Rucchin fed Kovalchuk for a one-timer with 4:25 gone by in the first.
Jon Sim made it 3-0 just 70 seconds later off a 2-on-1 break with Scott Mellanby.
After Dunham replaced DiPietro, the Islanders scored three unanswered goals to even the score.
The Islanders cut the lead to 3-1 after Mike Sillinger found Trent Hunter busting to the net. Hunter's tenth goal at 7:12 of the first period was also assisted by Andy Hilbert.
Hunter almost got the second Islanders goal, shorthanded, but he was denied by the right post on the backhand.
Miroslav Satan finally did get that shorthanded goal to get the Islanders within one. Radek Martinek lofted the puck up to Satan, who batted it down out of mid-air. He then broke into the offensive zone and beat Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen at the far side, 2:35 into the second period.
The Islanders tied it off Jason Blake's wrist shot from the right circle. Blake's team-leading 25th goal was assisted by Alexei Yashin and Chris Simon with 6:05 left in the second period
Marian Hossa returned for the third period after leaving the ice with a knee injury in the second. Only 19 seconds in, he scored his 31st goal of the season when his shot deflected off Sean Hill's stick and over Dunham.
A pair of Islanders defensemen teamed up to even the score at four while playing 4-on-4. Freddy Meyer slapped the puck down low to Chris Campoli, who deflected the puck in off his skate at 6:03 of the third period.
Kovalchuk ended the game with his 26th goal of the season.
The Islanders get right back to work tomorrow when they face the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Coliseum at 7 pm.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Ilya Kovalchuk: Scored two goals, including the game-winner
2. Chris Campoli: Tied the game up in the third on his first goal of the season
3. Marian Hossa: Returned after an injury to give the Thrashers a 4-3 lead
4. Trent Hunter: Got the Islanders comeback started and hit two posts
5. Mike Dunham: Stopped 26 of 28 shots in relief
Stat of the Game: The Islanders hit five posts in the game.
Slapshots: Mike Dunham played in 17 games for the Thrashers last season...At the All-Star Game, Jason Blake played under Thrashers head coach Bob Hartley, who was the Eastern Conference assistant coach...The Islanders have scored two of their four shorthanded goals against Atlanta...Miroslav Satan last scored a shorthanded goal on March 6, 2004 at Toronto, while playing for Buffalo...Brendan Witt left the game in the first period with an upper body injury and did not return... Bruno Gervais (ankle) was the lone Islanders scratch.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
32 Brendan Witt - 24 Radek Martinek
14 Chris Campoli - 44 Freddy Meyer
3 Tom Poti - 6 Sean Hill
12 Chris Simon - 79 Alexei Yashin - 55 Jason Blake
25 Viktor Kozlov - 27 Randy Robitaille - 81 Miroslav Satan
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park 17 Shawn Bates - 45 Arron Asham
32 Kari Lehtonen
1 Johan Hedberg
2 Garnett Exelby - 7 Greg de Vries
3 Vitaly Vishnevski - 34 Shane Hnidy
5 Steve McCarthy - 28 Niclas Havelid
13 Slava Kozlov - 23 Jim Slater - 18 Marian Hossa
17 Ilya Kovalchuk - 20 Steve Rucchin - 9 Glen Metropolit
29 Brad Larsen - 16 Bobby Holik - 11 J.P. Vigier
14 Jon Sim - 19 Scott Mellanby - 39 Niko Kapanen