On a night honoring the Town of Brookhaven and in front of a boisterous sellout crowd of 16,234 at the Nassau Coliseum, unlikely heroes Richard Park and Andy Hilbert scored in another tight game against the Boston Bruins. Unlike Friday, the Islanders prevailed 2-1 Saturday night to split the home-and-home series against their Northeast Division foes. Rick DiPietro steered aside 20 pucks to record his 11th win of the season.
Park scored the game-winner at 7:30 of the third period and Hilbert scored his first of the season to help lift the Islanders to a 12-8-0 record on the season.
"Andy has been doing everything a hockey player should be doing, except putting the puck in the net," said head coach Ted Nolan. "For him to get his first in that fashion was a big goal for him and definitely for us."
The Islanders trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes, despite out-shooting Boston 12-2 in the opening frame. The Islanders ultimately out-shot Boston 29-21 in the game.
"We had a team meeting this morning, and discussed that the only thing we can control is our effort," said Nolan. "If we play like that on a regular basis, we'll win our share of games. Tonight we can walk out of the rink feeling we gave everything we had to give. We're fortunate to get another big goal from Richard Park. He's scored some big for us since he's been here."
With 2:35 left in the second period, Hilbert finally broke through on Thomas, who had stifled the Islanders offense for only one goal in nearly five periods of play. DiPietro fed the puck up to Mike Sillinger, who led Hilbert into the offensive zone. The left wing made a nice toe-drag move before wristing a shot by Thomas. A huge weight was lifted off Hilbert as he celebrated with a fist pump and a stick bang to the ice. When he approached the celebrating bench, his teammates mobbed him.
"I've been obviously pressing quite a bit," admitted Hilbert. "I've been getting scoring chances, but none of them have been going in. When I got to the bench it was one of those things where you don't have to worry about it anymore. It was nice to get one when it mattered. It doesn't really matter unless you win the game. Ricky played great and Richard got a huge goal for us. Right down the line everyone stepped up."
Chris Simon had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring, but was denied by Tim Thomas, who stopped 27 shots. Mike Comrie deked to the front of the net and threw a backhander on goal. The rebound kicked out to Simon, who couldn't slide it over the goal line before Thomas swept away the free puck.
The Bruins immediately went back the other way and converted on a pretty passing play. In the end, Marc Savard fed P.J. Axelsson for the only goal of the period at 3:51 of the first.
Park struck in the third period to give the Islanders their first lead of the game. Ruslan Fedotenko's initial shot was saved, but Park chipped the rebound over the fallen Thomas for a 2-1 Islanders advantage. Radek Martinek also assisted on Park's second goal of the season.
Later in the third period, DiPietro was elbowed in the head by Glen Metropolit and fell to the ice. He would re-gather himself and not miss any playing time.
The Islanders continue on their three-game homestand Monday against the Dallas Stars.
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage of tonight’s game.
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Five Stars of the Game:
1. Andy Hilbert: All of his hard work finally paid off. 2. Richard Park: The quietest clutch player on the team, saw time on the top line with Guerin and Comrie 3. Rick DiPietro: Solid again with a 20-save effort 4. Marc Savard: One of the sneakiest players in the game, made that extra look to set-up the lone Boston goal 5. Andy Sutton: Played a strong game in the defensive end
Stat of the Game: The Islanders limited Boston to ten shots through two periods.
Turning Point: Having scored only one goal in over 75 minutes of play, the Islanders struggled to find the answer to the Tim Thomas puzzle. At the 2:35 mark of the second period, the quiet, yet ever-persistent Andy Hilbert finally netted his first goal of the season and exposed a much needed chink in Thomas' armor. The Islanders peppered more than 12 shots throughout one period of play before Hilbert's goal, and gained a much needed jump in their step before skating away with the 2-1 victory.
Side note: The more literal turning point of the game was the return of the wave to Nassau Coliseum. Fans in section 109 tried time and time again before the wave caught on like wild fire to the Islander faithful. It surged for more than two minutes during a television timeout and the fans returned to watching the game.
Fan of the Game: Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate, producer of the Howard Stern Show was an honored guest at tonight's game. Prior to the drop of the puck, Dell'Abate paid a visit to the Islanders Business Club gathering at the Marriott Hotel. Having grown up in East Meadow, Dell'Abate is a longtime Islanders fan. He lists Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier as his favorite Islanders of all-time, and prior to joining the Howard Stern Show, Dell'Abate worked game nights at the Nassau Coliseum.
Slapshots: The Islanders are 2-0-0 on the second night of a home-and-home on consecutive nights…The Islanders are 3-1-0 on the back end of a home-and-home…Tonight was the Islanders' 1,200th win…Rick DiPietro recorded his second assist of the season…The Islanders are 6-0-4 against Boston in their last ten games at the Nassau Coliseum…Marc-Andre Bergeron returned to the lineup after missing the past five games as a healthy scratch…Tim Jackman was a healthy scratch…Chris Simon and Richard Park each saw time on the top line with Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin…Ruslan Fedotenko spent most of the game playing alongside Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek.
Game Operations: It was Town of Brookhaven Night at the Coliseum…Thanks to proceeds from tonight's ticket sales, $23,000 will be donated to Stony Brook Foundation to honor a student from the Town of Brookhaven…Former Patchogue resident, Lt. Michael T. Murphy received tonight's Hometown Hero after serving in Afghanistan for the Navy Seals. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously this year from President Bush. Parents Dan and Maureen and brother John received tonight's award in honor of Michael…
The Stony Brook Pep Band performed prior to the game and during the 1st intermission…Also, during the first intermission Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate coached one lucky contestant for the chance to win a Honda Accord…Another lucky couple - Chad and Katie – became engaged thanks to "Proposal Roulette."…Each fan received a free Islanders T-Shirt courtesy of Mr. Jay…Tonight featured a special Brookhaven Dunkin Donuts sponsored lucky section and Brookhaven McDonald's sponsored lucky row.
Defensemen 32 Brendan Witt - 24 Radek Martinek
14 Chris Campoli - 8 Bruno Gervais
25 Andy Sutton - 4 Bryan Berard
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
Forwards 11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
12 Chris Simon - 89 Mike Comrie - 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 63 Josef Vasicek - 81 Miroslav Satan
20 Sean Bergenheim - 10 Richard Park
Goaltenders 30 Tim Thomas
40 Tuukka Rask
Defensemen 33 Zdeno Chara - 44 Aaron Ward
41 Andrew Alberts – 6 Dennis Wideman
38 Bobby Allen - 45 Mark Stuart
Forwards 11 P.J. Axelsson – 91 Marc Savard - 27 Glen Murray
72 Peter Schaefer - 81 Phil Kessel - 10 Brandon Bochenski
16 Marco Sturm - 13 Glen Metropolit - 12 Chuck Kobasew
60 Vladimir Sobotka - 56 Petteri Nokelainen - 53 Jeremy Reich
Additional reporting by Christopher Musto
1 - 0 BOS
1 - 1 Tie