ISLANDERS 5, BUFFALO 3
By Jason Lockhart
The Islanders found themselves trailing the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 after two periods but Randy Robitaille's floater from the point with 3:09 left in the third period slipped past goaltenders Ryan Miller to give the Isles a 4-3 lead, late in the third period. The Islanders went on to win 5-3 against the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
Rick DiPietro stopped 28 of 31 shots on Islanders 1972 Retro Night for his 20th win of the season.
"Coming into today, I just wanted to play solid and give our guys a chance to win," said DiPietro.
Trent Hunter scored a highlight reel goal to get things started for the Islanders, 7:48 into the first period. Hunter busted down the right wing boards, avoided a check before going by one more defender and backhanding home his 11th goal of the season.
The Sabres evened the score with 4:59 remaining in the first period. Maxim Afinogenov's shot was stopped by DiPietro, but Jochen Hecht gathered in the rebound for his 13th goal of the season.
Richard Park made a perfect pass to Arron Asham across the slot for a one-timer past Miller at 3:03 of the second period to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
"Parky made a great play and Batesy was driving to the net and pushed the defenseman back," said Asham about the goal. "When I one-timed it, I wasn't really aiming, I was just trying to get it on net."
The Sabres tied the game at two on the power play. Hecht's backhand shot trickled over DiPietro's arm, 5:00 into the second period.
With 7:35 left in the second period the Sabres took the lead. Daniel Paille fed Ales Kotalik, who re-directed the puck just over the line for a 3-2 Sabres advantage.
The comeback started when Asham's blast from the high slot slipped through Miller to get the Islanders back even with the Sabres at 6:53 of the third period. Allan Rourke picked up his first point of the season with an assist on the play.
"When I was in Juniors I think they once measured my slapshot to be 92 MPH," said Asham. "That was in Junior, and I've gained a few pounds since then. I'm not sure what it is now."
Robitaille's shot from the point got through the screen of Viktor Kozlov and past Miller to give the Islanders the 4-3 lead with 3:09 left in the third period.
Andy Hilbert salted the game away off a feed from Mike Sillinger with 53.9 remaining in the game.
"That was a good team we played tonight," said DiPietro. "We showed a lot of resiliency and played hard."
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Arron Asham: Two goals including a laser in the third period
2. Trent Hunter: A goal and an assist along with six hits
3. Randy Robitaille: Scored the game-winner
4. Jochen Hecht: Two goals in defeat
5. Chris Campoli: Led the team with eight hits
Stat of the Game: The Islanders out-hit the Sabres 24-13.
Havoc Zone Fans of the Game: Eric, Anthony, Evan and Adam have known each other for about five years and share a common bond a passion for the Islanders. "We got here at 1 pm because we got nervous when we heard people had been lining up here seven hours before the game started at other games," said Eric. "The seats are great, the prices are great and the energy is awesome in the Havoc Zone," said Anthony. "It really fills up the arena." Islanders GM Garth Snow also made an appearance, greeting and talking to the hundreds of fans that lined up despite the cold.
Slapshots: Arron Asham came out in warm-ups wearing an afro wig to celebrate 1972 Retro Night...When asked about his thoughts on Asham's hairdo, DiPietro replied, "I think the Buffalo guys were caught more off-guard more than we were"...Prior to the game, defenseman Allan Rourke was recalled on an emergency basis from Bridgeport...The Islanders are now 3-19-0 when trailing after two periods.
Game Operations: It was all 1972 all night as the Islanders celebrated the inaugural 1972-73 Islanders season with an array of throwback features. Most notable were the replica 1972 jerseys that were a lighter blue than today's Islanders jersey and contained orange lettering. The Islanders' original captain Ed Westfall dropped the ceremonial first puck in front of a standing ovation from the Coliseum crowd. "It's always exciting being back at the Coliseum," said Westfall. "Being down at ice level is always special you get to experience the electricity of the fans. When you're down there during the warm-ups, it's easy to fall back to the memories when you were doing it yourself". The coaching staff even got in on the festivities, sporting 1970s style warm-up jackets while behind the bench. The in-game entertainment featured music from 1972, including the No. 1 hit, "American Pie" by Don McLean.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
38 Allan Rourke - 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
30 Ryan Miller
43 Martin Biron
45 Dmitri Kalinin - 27 Teppo Numminen
51 Brian Campbell - 5 Toni Lydman
6 Jaroslav Spacek - 38 Nathan Paetsch
26 Thomas Vanek - 23 Chris Drury - 12 Ales Kotalik
55 Jochen Hecht - 48 Daniel Briere - 29 Jason Pominville
20 Daniel Paille - 9 Derek Roy - 61 Maxim Afinogenov
28 Paul Gaustad - 22 Adam Mair - 76 Andrew Peters