The script couldn't have been written any better for Al Arbour, who celebrated his 1500th game as an Islander with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 16,234.
The Islanders trailed 2-0 in the second period and 2-1 in the third period, but Miroslav Satan scored twice in the third, including in the final three minutes to give Arbour his historic 740th win as an Islander.
Following the win, a wonderful ceremony was produced to replace Arbour's "739" banner with a new "1500" banner. The entire team and many Islanders alumni took part in the ceremony.
"I'm very touched with everything," said Arbour after the game. "I was very surprised at the end when they raised the new banner. All of the fans staying until the very, very end, that really touched me quite a bit. I'd like to thank the organization for asking me to do this, and especially the players that worked so hard. Ted Nolan did a great job with the team, as well as general manager Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang. This is really my second home."
Said Ted Nolan: "To know where you're going, you have to know where you came from. I look up at the banners all the time. I look at all the names all the time. And one of the most important guys in this organization, along with Mr. Torrey was Al Arbour. You could tell how much he is loved here by the way the fans reacted when he was introduced. We have to remember where we came from and hopefully it's a great start to head us in the right direction."
Wade Dubielewicz earned the win after replacing Rick DiPietro late in the second period. DiPietro left the ice and did not return after being hit in the face by an accidental high-stick from Sidney Crosby, whose stick was raised by Radek Martinek.
Trent Hunter also scored for the Islanders, who raised their record to 7-4-0.
"I like this team," said Arbour. "They all come to play, and they work hard every shift. They keep going to the very end and they proved it tonight."
The Penguins struck first on the power play with 7:54 left in the first period. Ryan Malone found a loose puck in front and steered it home on the backhand.
Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead early in the second period on Tyler Kennedy's first NHL goal.
Miroslav Satan and Alain Nasreddine
A fortunate bounce cut the Penguins lead to 2-1, 8:20 into the second period. Crosby tried to throw the puck behind his own net, but it kicked back out to Hunter, who rifled a shot by Marc-Andre Fleury for his third goal of the season.
The Islanders failed to score on a four-minute power play, which they received after Crosby high-sticked DiPietro in the face with 6:04 remaining in the second period. DiPietro was then replaced by Dubielewicz, who earned the win, stopping seven shots in the game.
Satan excited the entire Islanders bench, including Arbour when he evened the score at two, just 5:30 into the third period. Andy Sutton banked a pass up to Josef Vasicek, who gained the offensive zone. Vasicek then found a streaking Satan, who threw the puck past Fleury.
With 2:41 left in the third period, Satan clinched the victory on a bang-bang play. Marc-Andre Bergeron threw the puck on goal and Satan slammed the rebound home to put the Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.
Check out complete coverage of Al Arbour, #1500 on Islanders TV by searching "Arbour" in the Islanders TV console.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Al Arbour: He claims he didn't say much on the bench, but his presence was enough to will the Islanders to victory 2. Miroslav Satan: Showed his third period heroics 3. Richard Park: Looked very comfortable and worked hard on the Satan-Vasicek line, set-up the last goal 4. Tyler Kennedy: Scored his first NHL goal 5. Trent Hunter: Got the Islanders going
Stat of the Game: The Islanders had 19 takeaways to the Penguins' eight.
Kickbutt Loudville Fans of the Game: Illysa and Joe were very excited to be at tonight's Al Arbour #1500 game. When Joe was little he said he watched Al coach. "He's probably the reason I became an Islanders fan. I'm looking forward to an old-school Arbour-type game tonight."
Slapshots: When Al Arbour made his way onto the ice for the start of the game, players from both teams slapped their sticks on the ice in appreciation for the Hall of Fame coach…Mike Sillinger made a heads up play to increase Sidney Crosby's high-sticking penalty from two to four minutes. Sillinger motioned to the security guard to retrieve Rick DiPietro from the locker room. Rick who showed the referee the cut near his eye…The Islanders sported their "old traditional" home whites…Josef Vasicek gave Al Arbour the game puck at the conclusion of the evening.
Game Operations: Al Arbour #1500 Night began with video tributes to the Islanders Hall of Fame coach, concluding with Arbour stating "I am Al Arbour, and I am an Islander." Al Arbour night was highlighted by a multitude of special guests. Dropping the ceremonial puck were Hall of Famers Scotty Bowman, who coached Al Arbour and the architect behind the Islanders' four Stanley Cup, Bill Torrey…Following the game, the Islanders replaced the "Arbour 739" banner with a new banner, which reads "Arbour 1500." Joining Arbour for the post-game ceremony were his family, current Islanders Bill Guerin, Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt and former Islanders Ed Westfall, Gerry Hart, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, Jean Potvin, Mike Hordy, Richie Hansen, Pat LaFontaine, Benoit Hogue, Steve Webb and Eric Cairns.
Jerseys Auctioned: Tonight's jerseys bearing the Al Arbour, #1500 patch are being auctioned off at NHL.com until November 24.
11 Andy Hilbert – 18 Mike Sillinger – 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko – 89 Mike Comrie – 7 Trent Hunter
20 Sean Bergenheim – 63 Josef Vasicek – 81 Miroslav Satan
12 Chris Simon – 10 Richard Park – 2 Aaron Johnson
3 Mark Eaton - 55 Sergei Gonchar
44 Brooks Orpik - 4 Rob Scuderi
32 Alain Nasreddine - 5 Darryl Sydor
12 Ryan Malone - 87 Sidney Crosby - 71 Evgeni Malkin
8 Mark Recchi - 11 Jordan Staal - 17 Petr Sykora
16 Erik Christensen - 18 Adam Hall - 27 Georges Laraque
10 Gary Roberts - 25 Maxime Talbot - 48 Tyler Kennedy