ISLANDERS 6, PHILADELPHIA 5 OT
By Jason Lockhart
It took over 64 minutes, but the Islanders finally defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 in overtime, Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum, on Trent Hunter's power play goal. Jason Blake tallied his second hat trick of the season as the Islanders (32-23-8) moved into a seventh-place tie with Montreal in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders didn't make it easy on themselves. They led 4-1 after the first period and 5-3 after two periods, but the Flyers tied it up mid-way through the third period to send it into overtime. The Islanders converted on a power play after Marc-Andre Bergeron drew the call when he was pulled down by Mike Richards while busting to the net. Rick DiPietro picked up his 28th win and is only two shy of his career high.
"Every game has its character," said Mike Sillinger. "We had a three-goal lead and they got back in the game with a couple of lucky bounces. We lost our defensive composure, but we were able to get the power play in overtime and score. It was a big two points."
Due to help from other teams, the Islanders jumped from the ninth to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. They trail sixth-place Atlanta by two points and fifth-place Pittsburgh by three.
But the Islanders helped themselves by winning their fourth game in a row to improve to 5-1 on their current seven-game home stand.
The Islanders struck first just 2:10 into the game. Blake fed the puck into the high slot before going to the front of the net. Chris Campoli's shot from the slot was deflected by Blake past Antero Niittymaki for his 30th goal of the season.
Blake scored his second goal of the game at 8:34 of the first. The Islanders skated into the offensive zone, 3-on-0. Randy Robitaille's initial shot was stopped, but Blake followed up on the rebound.
The Flyers cut the lead to 2-1 when R.J. Umberger's turn-around shot got by DiPietro with 6:18 remaining in the first period.
The Islanders rebounded 20 seconds later when the Sillinger-Hunter-Andy Hilbert line converted. Hilbert got the puck to Hunter, who had his shot from the right side stopped by Niittymaki. Sillinger than gathered the rebound and gave it to Hunter, who banged it home for his 18th of the season with 5:58 left in the opening period.
Blake completed the hat trick when he stole the puck from Sami Kapanen, walked in alone and slid the puck around Niittymaki on the backhand with only 14.7 seconds to go in the first.
"Thankfully he stayed with the Islanders," said Rick DiPietro. "He got four points tonight."
Kapanen made it 4-2 by banking a slapshot off Campoli's arm from the slot with 2:48 gone by in the second period.
Chris Simon completed two-thirds of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in one shift. First, he scored off a Blake feed to put the Islanders up 5-2. Next, he pummeled Todd Fedoruk on the ensuing faceoff in a one-sided fight. He needed only an assist to complete the "trick."
On the next shift, Arron Asham laid out Darren Reid with a single punch to get the Coliseum crowd on their feet for the second fight in under a minute.
After the Islanders couldn't get the puck out of the zone, Dimitry Afanasenkov found himself alone in front and scored with 7:50 remaining in the second period to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Umberger and Simon Gagne tallied goals in the middle of the third to even the score.
"We ran out of gas for a little bit," said Ted Nolan. "But the one thing with this team is they know how to re-energize."
Niittymaki made the save of the game late in the third period with a paddle stop on Sillinger, who appeared to have a wide open net.
Hunter scored with 30.7 seconds left in the overtime period when he deflected Sillinger's pass over Niittymaki, while the Islanders skated 4-on-3.
"I was just trying to re-direct it," said Hunter. "I was happy to see it go in and get the win. We know that every point is very crucial."
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Jason Blake: Recorded his fifth-career hat trick and added an assist
2. Trent Hunter: Scored two goals, including the game-winner
3. R.J. Umberger: Two goals in the losing effort
4. Chris Simon: A goal and a fight
5. Alexandre Picard: Two assists and a +1
Stat of the Game: Despite the high score, there were only five power plays three for the Flyers and two to the Islanders.
Havoc Zone Fans of the Game: Dan and Rob are friends from West Islip where they go to high school together, while Dan and Dan are mates from Franklin Square. The four were standing outside for a few hours together and found out some interesting and not so interesting things about one other. Dan, from West Islip, discovered that one of the Dans from Franklin Square was adept at playing hackey sack. The four began playing, but it soon stopped with the two from West Islip realizing their skills were lacking. The four found out about Ryan Smyth trade while outside, and were all happy to hear the news.
Slapshots: Jason Blake's goal in the final minute of the first period was a Dave & Buster's Power goalÂ¦Blake's hat trick was his second of the second and the third by the IslandersÂ¦It's the first four-game winning streak of the year for the Islanders
Game Operations: Brooke Halloran, who figure skates out of Islanders Iceworks put on a beautiful performance following the first period. She is a former bronze medal winner at the Empire State GamesÂ¦Three lucky contestants had a chance to win a H3 Hummer by throwing a Styrofoam plane into the window of a H3 from the 300 levelÂ¦At the beginning of the game, the Islanders fans stood and cheered for a image on the board featuring Ryan Smyth and his career stats. Hats off to the Game Ops crew for putting the piece together with such short notice.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
32 Brendan Witt - - 6 Sean Hill
14 Chris Campoli - 44 Freddy Meyer
3 Tom Poti - 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
12 Chris Simon - 27 Randy Robitaille - 55 Jason Blake
20 Richard Zednik - 25 Viktor Kozlov - 81 Miroslav Satan
10 Richard Park - 51 Frans Nielsen - 45 Arron Asham
30 Antero Niittymaki
40 Robert Esche
5 Braydon Coburn - 2 Derian Hatcher
44 Joni Pitkanen - 28 Lasse Kukkonen
23 Denis Gauthier - 45 Alexandre Picard
12 Simon Gagne - 17 Jeff Carter - 9 Scottie Upshall
27 Dimitry Afanasenkov - 18 Mike Richards - 24 Sami Kapanen
8 Geoff Sanderson - 20 R.J. Umberger - 26 Darren Reid
15 Stefan Ruzicka - 61 Mike York - 29 Todd Fedoruk