ISLANDERS 6, WASHINGTON 2
Simply put, the Islanders did what they had to do tonight in taking a 6-2 victory over an under-manned but relentless Washington team.
The Capitals, who come to Long Island next Saturday night, battled throughout. But Ted Nolan's Islanders matched their opponent's work ethic and scored three power plays goals. To illustrate how much the power has improved this week, the Islanders had gone 17 games without scoring two power play goals in the same game.
"Give a lot of the credit to (GM) Garth Snow," said veteran Chris Simon, who scored in the second period to give the Islanders a 4-0 lead. "He brought over two players to really address a need: a big shot from the point in (Marc-Andre) Bergeron and someone to stand in front of the net in Smitty."
Smitty, of course, is Ryan Smyth, who was superb in his second game as an Islander. Although he was not credited with a point in either goal, Smyth was directly responsible for the Islanders' first and third power play goals of the night.
"That's one of the things Ryan does best," said Islanders head coach Ted Nolan. "Ryan being here gives us two excellent forward units on the power play."
The Islanders' new-look power play struck on its second opportunity of the first period. With Smyth planted in front of the net, Mike Sillinger's shot snuck by Brent Johnson with 9:17 remaining.
Miroslav Satan scored his 22nd goal of the season on another power play opportunity with 1:32 to go in the first. After keeping the puck in at the point, Sean Hill got it back from Jason Blake and fired it on net. Satan corralled the rebound and stuffed it home for a 2-0 Islanders lead.
Rick DiPietro kept the Islanders up by two when he stoned Brooks Laich in front. Laich received a pretty feed from Alexander Semin early in the second period during a Washington power play.
The Islanders took a 3-0 lead on their power-play goal of the game. Tom Poti fed Bergeron, who blasted his tenth goal of the season past Brent Johnson, 7:05 into the second period.
Chris Simon tacked on to the Islanders' advantage by banking in the fourth goal off Brent Johnson from behind the net with 3:34 left in the second period.
In the third period, another goal by Satan (at 5:00 of the period) gave the Islanders a 5-0 lead, but quick goals by Brians Pothier and Sutherby gave the Islanders a taste of what they're in for if they're not ready to play 60 next Saturday against the Caps.
Smyth scored his first goal as an Islander by crashing the net on a neat give-and-go with Randy Robitaille at 17:06 of the third. His smile said it all: he is an Islander.
"It was nice to get away from the distractions of the first 48 hours after the trade, get on the road with the guys, have a meal and get to know everyone," said Smyth. "The guys have welcomed me with open arms and I really appreciate it."
Then Smyth shared Ted Nolan's thoughts on the bench in the final seconds of the game. The coach put his arm on Smyth and, referring to this week's home-and-home with the rival Rangers said, "Okay, now are you ready for the Battle of New York"?
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Marc-Andre-Bergeron: a blast from the point for a goal, two assists, +2, 19:22 of icetime
2. Miroslav Satan: two goals, on the puck all night
3. Tom Poti: two assists, +2 and a team-high 28:38 of ice
4. Brendan Witt: again, kept Alexander Ovechkin in check, and drew a double-minor
5. Ryan Smyth: first goal as an Islander and a threat throughout
Stat of the Game: Brendan Witt was credited with three blocked shots and seemed to get in the way of even more.
Notes: The Islanders announced today that forward Shawn Bates underwent successful surgery to repair a sports hernia and will be out indefinitely. Bates will likely miss the remainder of the regular season but could return for the Stanley Cup Playoffs...Captain Alexei Yashin made the road trip and his return appears imminent. Nolan said Yashin is now "working his way into game shape." Our prediction: the captain returns Thursday at the Coliseum for the Rangers...Rick DiPietro extended his career-high consecutive-games-played streak to 14...The Islanders have converted on the power play in five of their past six games.
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
94 Ryan Smyth - 27 Randy Robitaille - 55 Jason Blake
20 Richard Zednik - 25 Viktor Kozlov - 81 Miroslav Satan
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
45 Arron Asham - 10 Richard Park - 12 Chris Simon
1 Brent Johnson
35 Frederic Cassivi
2 Brian Pothier - 55 Jeff Schultz
23 Milan Jurcina - 26 Shaone Morrisonn
4 John Erskine - 44 Steve Eminger
47 Bryan Muir
8 Alexander Ovechkin - 24 Kris Beech - 28 Alexander Semin
43 Tomas Fleischman - 13 Jiri Novotny - 21 Brooks Laich
87 Donald Brashear - 16 Brian Sutherby - 10 Matt Bradley
27 Ben Clymer - 39 Alexandre Giroux