The Islanders killed off a 4-on-3 power play in overtime and then scored with 9.6 seconds left, with Mike Comrie finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Richard Park to give the Islanders a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Wednesday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
All 15,301 fans in attendance nervously sat through the two-minute Toronto power play advantage, in overtime while Wade Dubielewicz stopped shot after shot with help from Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton, Mike Sillinger, Andy Hilbert and Trent Hunter. Dubielewicz stopped 21 of 22 shots after he entered the game in the second period. Rick DiPietro left the game following the first period with a knee injury and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
"We said in between the first and second periods that you never know what's going to happen," said head coach Ted Nolan. "You have to give Wade a lot of credit. He's been working hard in practice. When you're called upon you have to be ready and he was certainly ready tonight."
Added Comrie: "When you lose your starting goaltender it's always hard, especially the way Ricky has been playing recently. "But Dubie held us in there and we got a big penalty kill when we needed it."
After the overtime penalty was killed, there were only 43 seconds left in the period, but the Islanders took advantage when Park poke-checked the puck away from Jason Blake, who tried to make a move into the offensive zone. Then it was off to the races for Park and Comrie. Park's initial shot was deflected by defenseman Anton Stralman, but it rolled in on goalie Andrew Raycroft. Comrie swooped in and shoved the puck under Raycroft for his team-leading 11th goal.
"When Richard forced the play like that, I saw a 2-on-1 develop," said Comrie about Park's poke-check on Blake. "It happens pretty fast. Once you see the defenseman play it well, you have to go to the net hard. Park made a great play to get the shot through. The rebound was just sitting it there for me and it just trickled by Raycroft."
DiPietro made seven saves before leaving the game up 3-2 after one period of play. Dubielewicz earned his second win of the season in two-plus periods of relief, raising the Islanders to 18-15-2 on the season.
Comrie totaled two goals and an assist, while Park finished the game with three assists.
The Leafs struck first at 6:13 of the first period. Matt Stajan fed Alex Steen for a perfect pass on a 2-on-1 break. DiPietro had no chance as Stajan lifted it over him.
Andy Hilbert evened the score less than a minute. After Hilbert won an offensive draw, Bryan Berard laid the puck across to Chris Campoli, who fired a shot wide. Hilbert quickly grabbed the puck after it banked off the end boards and fired the puck past Andrew Raycroft on a spin-a-round shot.
Some sloppy play in front of DiPietro led to a Leafs 2-1 advantage with 6:58 left in the first period. After a scramble in front, Darcy Tucker threw the puck out in front to a wide open Mark Bell, who had the entire net to shoot at.
But once again, the Islanders bounced back to tie the game. With 3:40 to play in the third period, DiPietro started a breakout with a backhand pass to Richard Park, who sprung Mike Comrie on a breakaway. Comrie moved to his left then lifted a backhander over the left pad of Raycroft for his tenth goal of the season.
With 48 seconds left in the first period the Islanders took a 3-2 lead, this time with a scramble in front of Raycroft. Comrie dumped the puck in front, where Bill Guerin and Park each had whacks at it. After Comrie joined as well, Guerin found the puck and threw it past Raycroft for his tenth goal of the season.
Mike Sillinger had a glorious chance to put the Islanders up 4-3 with less than a minute to go in the third period. Trent Hunter avoided one hit and then waited until he was at the goal line to throw the puck back to Sillinger streaking down the slot untouched. Raycroft made the initial save on Sillinger's one-timer and then stopped the rebound with his right pad.
The Islanders take on the Senators tomorrow night in Ottawa.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Mike Comrie: Two goals, including the game-winner, assist 2. Wade Dubielewicz: Magnificent filling in for Ricky, stopping 22 shots, including five in overtime 3. Richard Park: Has been brilliant since taking a spot on a line with Guerin and Comrie and seeing power play time, 3 assists 4. Bill Guerin: Scored a dirty goal 5. Bruno Gervais: Strong defensively, 27:16 TOI, +1
Stat of the Game: The Islanders are a perfect 12-0-0 when leading after two periods.
Slapshots: The Islanders scored three goals in the first period for the first time since opening day in Buffalo on October 5, 2007 in their 6-4 win…The Islanders participated in their league-leading 22nd one-goal game of the season…Jason Blake made his debut at the Nassau Coliseum in a Maple Leafs uniform…Radek Martinek is day-to-day with a right leg bruise...Rick DiPietrowill not play tomorrow in Ottawa. He will get an MRI on his leg...Goaltender Joey MacDonald was recalled from Bridgeport following the game.
Play of the Game: With the game on the line in overtime, and Rick DiPietro out for the remainder of the game, Wade Dubielewicz put forth his best performance of the year, stopping all five shots he faced. The most intense of these came in the form of a four shot barrage from the Leafs, as Dubielewicz was forced to make three incredible saves in rapid succession, earning him the well-deserved second star of the game.
Kickbutt Fans of the Game: Even though holiday season is over, the gift giving is not. Tina, Jaime and Christina (left to right) received tickets to Jason Blake's homecoming courtesy of their brothers and boyfriends. For Jaime and Christina this was their first game of the season, while Tina saw the Islanders win once earlier this season.
Game Operations: One lucky contestant won an Islanders prize package after correctly spelling "Fedotenko" in the Islanders Spelling Bee…The famous Nathan's Mascot Race returned to the Nassau Coliseum with Sparky beating out Frankster and Mr. Crinkles…Tonight's Comp USA's "Name That Tune" Song was holiday themed with Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time"…A new action-packed Islanders TV video was aired with Kanye West's "Stronger" as the theme music.
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage of tonight’s game.
32 Brendan Witt – 8 Bruno Gervais
25 Andy Sutton – 44 Freddy Meyer
14 Chris Campoli - 4 Bryan Berard
10 Richard Park – 89 Mike Comrie – 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko – 18 Mike Sillinger – 7 Trent Hunter
20 Sean Bergenheim– 63 Josef Vasicek – 81 Miroslav Satan
28 Tim Jackman – 11 Andy Hilbert - 57 Blake Comeau
Goaltenders 1 Andrew Raycroft
30 Scott Clemmensen
15 Tomas Kaberle - 31 Pavel Kubina
25 Hal Gill - 7 Ian White
56 Andy Wozniewski – 36 Anton Stralman
23 Alexei Ponikarovsky - 13 Mats Sundin - 80 Nik Antropov
10 Alex Steen - 14 Matthew Stajan - 22 Boyd Devereaux
11 Jiri Tlusty - 42 Kyle Wellwood- 55 Jason Blake
18 Chad Kilger – 9 Mark Bell - 16 Darcy Tucker
Additional reporting by Andrew Scharff and Chris Musto
1 - 0 TOR
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 TOR
2 - 2 Tie