It wasn't pretty, but the Islanders persevered to earn a 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames, Friday night at Pengrowth Saddledome. Mike Sillinger and Richard Park scored in the shootout session, while 2008 NHL All-Star Rick DiPietro made two stops in the shootout to help the Islanders pick up points in their third game through the first four games of the road trip.
Sillinger also scored two goals in regulation, while Trent Hunter, playing in front of dozens of friends and family from his home in nearby Red Deer, Alberta, added a goal and two assists.
DiPietro earned his 17 win of the season on 38 saves. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 21 shots in the losing effort.
The Islanders relinquished a 3-1 lead, which they carried briefly into the second period. Calgary scored three straight goals in the second period to gain a 4-3 lead, but Ruslan Fedotenko tied the game at four late in the second period to create an exciting finish to the tilt.
"We kidded with the guys during the first intermission that we're not good with a two-goal lead," said head coach Ted Nolan. "But give this team credit for fighting back and finding a way to win."
Miroslav Satan missed tonight's game with a strained knee and Brendan Witt left the game in the first period with a sprained ankle and did not return. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
"It was a very gutsy performance," said Nolan. "The guys responded tonight. One thing we preach is that any guy on any given night has to step up if guys go down."
The Islanders' penalty killing was once again excellent. The Flames failed to convert on four man-advantage opportunities, including a four-minute double minor with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.
"Look at our penalty killers who have done great work all year," said Nolan. "Every time a team is down for four minutes, the guys are exhausted. Credit the work of guys like Hilbert, Sillinger and Park. And you can't stop the power play without our best penalty killer, Ricky."
Sillinger opened the scoring at 8:18 of the opening frame with a low breakaway goal. Bruno Gervais made the head-man feed to spring Sillinger.
The next three goals came in a span of 1:16. Owen Nolan first countered for the Flames with his eighth goal of the season. A mere 17 seconds later, Hunter scored his seventh goal of the season after tipping in Freddy Meyer's shot from the point. With 2:52 to play in the first period, Sillinger scored his second of the period with a wrist shot off a nice feed from Fedotenko. Hunter also earned an assist.
The opening of the second period was a disaster for the Islanders, who surrendered two goals before 2:00 elapsed. Nolan and Craig Conroy scored the two Flames goals.
Calgary then took a 4-3 with 3:28 left in the second period when Dustin Boyd jammed a loose puck past Rick DiPietro.
But the Islanders evened the score at four with only 1:23 later when Marc-Andre Bergeron's hope shot from the far right point was deflected by Fedotenko and found its way past Kiprusoff.
The third period tightened up, but each team still had their chances. Calgary earned a four-minute power play late in the period when Sillinger was given a high-sticking penalty. Only the strong work of DiPietro, Park, Hilbert and the rest of the penalty kill unit kept the game tied.
The Islanders had the last good opportunity before the shootout when they were awarded a power play with just over a minute left in overtime. But the unit of four failed to convert.
Kristian Huselius opened the shootout with a score on the backhand. Sillinger countered with a low wrist to the blocker side and then Park made a nice deke and scored off the post for the game-deciding goal.
On Sunday, the Islanders complete their five-game road trip in Ottawa, facing the Eastern Conference-leading Senators.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Mike Sillinger: Outstanding effort with three goals, including one in the shootout 2. Trent Hunter: Performed well under pressure in front of dozens of friends and family 3. Richard Park: Ted unexpectedly put him in the shootout and was clutch, excellent penalty killing 4. Owen Nolan: The wily veteran scored two, but couldn't get one by Ricky in the shootout 5. Bruno Gervais: Played a team-high 25:10, 1 assist, 3 blocked shots
Stat of the Game: The Islanders dominated in blocked shots over Calgary 17-7. Leading the charge was Freddy Meyer with six.Bruno Gervais and Bryan Berard each had three.
Slapshots: The Islanders and Flames played their first games in franchise history against one another on October 7, 1972…The Islanders last traveled to Calgary on Jan. 15, 2002…Over the past 11 games, the Islanders have secured at least point in nine.
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage of tonight’s game.
32 Brendan Witt – 8 Bruno Gervais
25 Andy Sutton – 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
14 Chris Campoli – 4 Bryan Berard
44 Freddy Meyer
10 Richard Park – 89 Mike Comrie – 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko – 18 Mike Sillinger – 7 Trent Hunter
20 Sean Bergenheim– 63 Josef Vasicek – 57 Blake Comeau
28 Tim Jackman – 11 Andy Hilbert
28 Robyn Regehr - 6 Cory Sarich
3 Dion Phaneuf - 8 Anders Eriksson
21 David Hale - 44 Rhett Warrener
20 Kristian Huselius - 22 Daymond Langkow - 12 Jarome Iginla
40 Alex Tanguay - 24 Craig Conroy - 11 Owen Nolan
8 Matthew Lombardi -19 Wayne Primeau - 41 Dustin Boyd
16 Mark Smith - 7 Stephane Yelle - 17 Eric Godard
KYLE MAKES HIS HOME DEBUT
After tallying two assists in his first pro game, Friday night in Binghamton, Kyle Okposo will skate in his first game at the Arena at Harbor Yard, Saturday night when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers take on the Springfield Falcons.
Come over to Bridgeport to welcome one of the Islanders' brightest prospects in years.
A HANDY GUIDE TO VISITING BRIDGEPORT
Get to the Game
To purchase tickets to Okposo's first two games with Bridgeport, please call the Arena at Harbor Yard box office at 203-334-2400 or visit Ticketmaster.com.
For those planning on taking the Port Jefferson Ferry to the Bridgeport games this weekend, click herefor a special discount.
Word out of Bridgeport is that the last boat's departure from Bridgeport back to Port Jefferson on Saturday has been pushed back to 9:45 to accommodate those attending the Sound Tigers game.
Dining Near Arena at Harbor Yard
Looking to grab some food before or after the game, these places come highly recommended by the Sound Tigers players and management.