Bryan Berard's 5-on-3 power play goal late in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Islanders gutted out a 2-1 win over the visiting Rangers, Wednesday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Rick DiPietro had to make 36 saves for his third win in four games.
"It's exciting to just get back playing," said Berard. "I missed a lot of hockey last year, and it was nice to finally get the contract negotiations over with. It was an exciting night."
The win gives the Islander a record of 3-1-0, while the Rangers drop to 1-2-0 on the season. Marc-Andre Bergeron also scored for the Islanders, who won the first of eight games against the rival Rangers. The Islanders continued their success on the penalty kill, stopping all six Rangers chances, including a 5-on-3 man advantage.
"I tip my cap to the Rangers," said head coach Ted Nolan. "I thought they played a great game, and I thought we played a great game," said head coach Ted Nolan. "Ricky was our best player. There were some pucks that he stopped that I wasn't sure how he stopped."
Added DiPietro: "They're a tough team to play against, and I thought we played well," said DiPietro. "The defense played great and blocked a lot of shots. They kept things to the outside and our penalty kill was good again."
With just 6.8 seconds left in the first period, the Islanders won an offensive draw to the left of Henrik Lundqvist, with the teams skating 3-on-3. Mike Sillinger tied up Blair Betts enough off the draw for Bergeron to grab the puck and blister a shot past Lundqvist with 3.5 ticks left on the clock.
"It was kind of an awkward situation, since you don't have a lot of 3-on-3s," said Bergeron. "Mike held up the guy off the draw and I grabbed the puck quickly and shot. I don't think Lundqvist expected me to shoot that quickly."
With 2:19 gone by in the second period, the Rangers got the equalizer when Fedor Tyutin wristed a shot past DiPietro.
But the Islanders regained the lead with 6:04 to play in the second period on Berard's first goal as an Islander since 1998. Bill Guerin threw it back to the point and Berard whipped a snap shot past Lundqvist with the Islanders up two men.
From there, the Islanders didn't sit back, but neither did the Rangers, who charged hard in the third period, out-shooting the Islanders 12-6 in the final frame.
Less than halfway through the third period, DiPietro with the help of Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek and the forward combination of Sillinger and Richard Park fended off 37 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play opportunity by the Rangers. DiPietro made some incredible saves, while Witt sacrificed the body to block a multitude of shots.
The Islanders allowed few chances in the closing minutes of the game as the Sillinger-Andy Hilbert-Trent Hunter lined hemmed the Rangers in their own zone for nearly a minute late in the game. The Rangers ultimately out-shot the Islanders 37-30, but could muster no more than one goal past DiPietro.
It's a quick turn-around for the Islanders who take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre for a 7:30 pm start.
Five Stars of the Game: 1. Rick DiPietro: Made some incredible saves among his 36. 2. Bryan Berard: An impressive return scoring the game-winner 3. Marc-Andre Bergeron: Opened the scoring a laser shot on the 3-on-3 4. Henrik Lundqvist: Solid in goal making 28 saves 5. Mike Sillinger: Contributed on both sides of the ice, setting up the first goal and standing his ground on the 3-on-5 penalty kill
Stat of the Game: Bryan Berard last scored for the Islanders on Dec. 17, 1998 at Los Angeles.
Fan of the Game: Kevin (middle) came to tonight's game with his two younger brothers Patrick and Bobby. The three of them were outside at the Family Fan Fest taking part in one of the many attractions for kids prior to the game. "I like the Islanders because they always beat the Rangers. I wore the wig tonight because I wanted to be the #1 fan." Well, he certainly was tonight.
Slapshots: Tonight's attendance was 15,295... The Islanders scored their first 3-on-3 goal since Bob Bourne accomplished the feat in 1981... Bryan Berard's last game with the Islanders was on Dec. 18, 1998 in Anaheim...The Rangers have failed to score on their first 15 power play chances.
Game Operations:Lilian Garcia, a ring announcer for the WWE, sang a stirring rendition of the National Anthem...Junior Ice Girl Danielle Blesi performed a graceful program during the first period intermission…A new game called "Hollywood Line" debuted, with a player reading a famous line from a movie, which a contestant has to guess…The return of the Chicken Dance drew thunderous applause and impeccable crowd participation…The American Capital Partner's Big Hits video debuted.
Hilary goes 2 for 2: For the second Rangers game in a row, movie star and recording artist Hilary Duff paid a visit to watch her friend Mike Comrie and the Islanders take on the rival Rangers. And for the second game in a row, Ms. Duff was treated to an exciting game between two in-state rivals.
Once again, the platinum recording artist brought home an Islanders victory in a close battle against the Rangers. If her winning streak keeps up when she's in attendance, Ms. Duff may become the Islanders' version of Kate Smith, who had an incredible winning streak going with the Flyers when she sang "God Bless America" before the start of their games.
Defensemen 32 Brendan Witt – 24 Radek Martinek 25 Andy Sutton – 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron 14 Chris Campoli – 8 Bruno Gervais 4 Bryan Berard
Forwards 15 Jeff Tambellini – 63 Josef Vasicek – 81 Miroslav Satan 26 Ruslan Fedotenko – 89 Mike Comrie – 13 Bill Guerin 11 Andy Hilbert – 18 Mike Sillinger – 7 Trent Hunter 20 Sean Bergenheim – 10 Richard Park
RANGERS Goaltenders 30 Henrik Lundqvist 40 Stephen Valiquette
Defensemen 3 Michal Rozsival - 8 Marek Malik 51 Fedor Tyutin - 5 Daniel Girardi 18 Marc Staal - 34 Jason Strudwick
Forwards 15 Blair Betts - 43 Ryan Callahan - 25 Petr Prucha 81 Marcel Hossa - 23 Chris Drury - 68 Jaromir Jagr 14 Brendan Shanahan - 19 Scott Gomez - 82 Martin Straka 44 Ryan Hollweg - 17 Brandon Dubinsky - 28 Colton Orr