Strong effort by Dubielewicz not enough as Leafs tally three third-period goals, including an empty-netter in Okposo's debut
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Islanders 3-1, Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum after trailing 1-0 heading into the third period. Wade Dubielewicz was terrific in goal, stopping 23 of 25 Toronto shots, but a deflection and a screened shot in third was enough for the Leafs, who also added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Islanders 2006 first-round draft pick Kyle Okposo made his NHL debut tonight.
"Having a different lineup each night is tough alone, but when you don't compete, don't fight and don't battle, that's inexusable," said head coach Ted Nolan. "The kids played extremely well. For his first game, I thought looked really good. Comeau and Bergenheim were doing their things. The young guys were competing out there."
Said Okposo, "I was a bit jittery at first. I almost psyched myself out at first. I started to calm down a bit in the second and third. I thought I played alright tonight, it was just unfortunate we didn't win tonight.
Rob Davison put the Islanders up 1-0 with a 190-foot shorthanded clear, but the Leafs tallied the next three goals, getting contributions from Kyle Wellwood, Pavel Kubina and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
After giving up the longest Islanders goal of the season, Vesa Toskala didn’t allow another tally, picking up his 30th win of the season on 27 saves.
Davison's goal put the Islanders up 1-0 with 6:12 remaining in the first period. The goal was Davison's first as an Islander and on the season.
Wellwood tied the game at one, 7:24 into the third period when he re-directed Alex Steen's shot. The Leafs took a 2-1 lead on Kubina's power play goal with 8:51 remaining in the third period.
Ponikarovsky tallied an empty-netter to seal the victory for the Leafs, who keep their playoff hopes alive.
Okposo took 15 shifts and played 14:45, while registering two shots and one hit. Okposo's best opportunity came in the third period when he beat a defender and attempted a wrap-around on Toskala, who stopped him with the paddle down.
"You could tell he was a player when he first stepped on the ice," said Nolan, referring to Okposo. "He has great sense of the game, a great understanding of the game. He has great instincts. Once he gets comfortable, he's going to be a pretty good player."
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Pavel Kubina: Tallied the game-winner, 28:48 TOI, 4 hits, 4 blocked shots 2. Alexei Ponikarosky: Goal, assist, +1, 3 shots 3. Richard Park: High energy all night, helped kill off 4-of 5 Toronto power plays 4. Kyle Wellwood: Goal, assist 5. Wade Dubielewicz: Stopped all 20 saves through the first two periods, filling in for the injured Rick DiPietro
Stat of the Game: The Islanders out-shot Toronto 13-6 in the third period.
Slapshots: Wade Dubielwicz started in his third game against Toronto…Rick DiPietro (hip), Bruno Gervais (concussion/thigh contusion), Andy Hilbert (ankle), Ruslan Fedotenko (knee), Brendan Witt (MCL) and Frans Nielsen (shoulder) were tonight's scratches… The last time the Islanders scored a shorthanded goal was on January 22 at Carolina…The Islanders will play Atlantic Division teams in the final eight games...The Islanders dropped their first regulation game when leading after two periods (20-1-1)
Kickbutt Fan of the Game:Michal, all the way from Rzeszow, Poland watched his first hockey game tonight. He's a fan of the Islanders because of Mariusz Czerkawski. He was excited to see his first Islanders game live. He's listened to many games on the internet and is a big fan of Islanders TV…
Game Operations:Amanda Kaletsky sang a beautiful rendition of the Canadian and American National Anthem…OSI Pharmaceuticals the Cancer Care trivia question… The Ice Devils Synchronized Skating Team from Freeport put on a magnificent show during the first intermission
Long Island Cares Food Drive: Prior to the start of the game, Islanders wives and girlfriends Kara Guerin, Meghan Dubielewicz, Lindsey Meyer, Terri Hunter, Debbie Fedotenko and Cassie Fontana collected food for the Long Island Cares Food Drive. Each fan that gave three non-perishable food items received a voucher for one free ticket to the Islanders' next home game on Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
French Class Night at the Coliseum: Over 1,000 French students from over 20 Long Island schools attended tonight's game. Before the drop of the puck, the students heard from a number of dignitaries, including Hon. Henri-Paul Normadin, Deputy Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations and Nestor Cantonjos, the Canadian Consulate.
Following the game, Bruno Gervais and assistant coach Dan Lacroix addressed the enthusiastic group. Gervais stayed much later answering everyone's questions. A number of prizes were also given out, including a signed Islanders jersey.
Gervais and Mike Bossy also visited the Canadian representatives in their suite.
6 Matthew Spiller - 24 Radek Martinek
44 Freddy Meyer - 3 Rob Davison
4 Bryan Berard – 2 Aaron Johnson
57 Blake Comeau – 10 Richard Park – 21 Kyle Okposo
15 Jeff Tambellini – 63 Josef Vasicek - 13 Bill Guerin
7 Trent Hunter – 89 Mike Comrie - 20 Sean Bergenheim
81 Miroslav Satan – 72 Jeremy Colliton – 48 Steve Regier
Goaltenders 1 Andrew Raycroft
35 Vesa Toskala
15 Tomas Kaberle - 31 Pavel Kubina
24 Bryan McCabe - 36 Anton Stralman
8 Carlo Colaiacovo - 7 Ian White
16 Darcy Tucker - 14 Matthew Stajan - 55 Jason Blake
23 Alexei Ponikarovsky - 19 Dominic Moore - 42 Kyle Wellwood
11 Jiri Tlusty - 10 Alex Steen - 48 Jeremy Williams
32 Alex Foster - 9 Mark Bell - 54 Kris Newbury
Additional Reporting by Andrew Scharff
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage tonight’s game.