Empty-netter with less than one second remaining in game completes Isles first Hat Trick of 2008-09, lifting team to 7-3 victory over Devils. Martinek, Okposo, Tambellini, Comeau also have goals for Isles
By Tom Liodice
It looked as though Sean Bergenheim was simply going to run out of time. As fans cheered him on, the Islanders forward picked up the puck deep in the Devils zone, stopped short, and fired a shot from a sharp angle into the empty net with just seven-tenths of one second remaining in the game. The goal was Bergenheim’s third of the game—the team’s first hat trick this season—as the Islanders overpowered the first-place Devils, 7-3, Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
"One of the things that I’ve been trying to stress to (Bergenheim) that better offensive players do is to cut back and protect the puck," Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon said. "A perfect example is the empty-net goal, it’s all set up by his stopping, going through Shanahan’s legs and putting it in the net. What impressed me about that is what he did to set it up. He’s doing more of that now than he did anytime this year."
Islanders forward Blake Comeau has been impressed with Bergenheim—who has scored six goals in the past five games.
"Whatever he’s eating, I want some of it," Comeau joked. "He’s playing well for us lately. He’s working hard, he’s playing with speed and playing physical as well. He’s a great player."
The Islanders exploded for six goals in the first two periods against Martin Brodeur.
Radek Martinek put the Islanders on the scoreboard first just 1:42 into the first period. The play was initiated as Tim Jackman skated hard into the play, looking for a rebound on a Dean McAmmond slap shot. Jackman stopped just short of the crease as Brodeur fell backwards. Martinek got the rebound and shot the puck into the open net for his third goal of the season.
Kyle Okposo extended the Islanders lead to two goals on the power play at 10:59 of the first period for the 2-0 lead. With John Madden in the box for high-sticking, Josh Bailey sent a centering pass from behind the net to Okposo. Brodeur got a piece of the pass, but deflected it right to Okposo who had an open net for the easy put-in for his 13th of the season.
Jeff Tambellini gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead over the Devils 14:05 into the first period with his fourth goal of the season. Tambellini took a breakout pass from Mark Streit and broke through the Devils defense. Tambellini backhanded the puck that just slipped through Brodeur’s legs.
Brian Gionta gave the Devils their first goal of the game just 29 seconds into the second period for his 15th goal of the season. Gionta deflected a Colin White slapshot catching Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald out of position to cut the Islanders lead to 3-1.
The Islanders retook their three-goal lead just over a minute later at the 1:40 mark of the second period. Mike Iggulden--called up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this morning--attempted a wrap-around past Brodeur. As the puck went through the goal crease, Sean Bergenehiem tipped the puck over Brodeur’s pads for the 4-1 lead for his first of the game.
The assist was Iggulden’s first career NHL point.
"That was something pretty special," Iggulden said. "I didn’t really expect anything. I was just trying to work as hard as I could, and to just get a point and a couple of assists was something really special for me."
Just two and a half minutes later, the New Jersey Devils, Jamie Langenbrunner scored his 21st of the season to cut the Islanders lead to 4-2. Langenbrunner found himself in the right place and at the right time and pounced on a rebound from a Bryce Salvador slapshot with MacDonald out of position for his 21st of the season.
Comeau gave the Islanders a 5-2 lead with a power play goal 13:00 into the second frame. With Jamie Langenbrunner in the penalty box, Bailey sent a behind-the-back centering pass from behind the net to a streaking Comeau, who flipped the puck over Brodeur for his second goal in as many games.
Andy Hilbert received a secondary assist on Comeau’s goal—his 100th career NHL point.
Bergenheim scored his second goal of the game 17:20 into the second period to give the Islanders their largest lead of the game. Iggulden deflected a failed Devils clearing attempt, he passed off to Bergenheim who fired the puck past Brodeur to give the Islanders a 6-2 lead.
Kevin Weekes replaced Brodeur before the start of the third period.
"That doesn’t happen too often," Gordon said. "We talked about getting the puck to the net and tried to advantage of some of his rebounds, and we did."
Patrik Elias cut the Islanders lead to three goals at 6-3, scoring a power play goal 6:48 into the third period. Elias deflected a White slapshot past MacDonald for his 26th goal of the season.
The Islanders announced that Trent Hunter has a fractured ankle and will miss the remainder of the season.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Sean Bergenheim: First career hat trick, 6 shots 2. Jeff Tambellini: Goal, assist 3. Mike Iggulden: Two assists in his Islanders debut
Slapshots: The Devils outshot the Islanders 38-28... Mike Iggulden made his Islanders debut, logging 12:37 of ice time, with two assists, four shots, and two hits... Iggulden is the 17th player to have played at least one game with Bridgeport and the Islanders this season... With his third goal of the season, Radek Martinek has as many goals this year as he had in his past three seasons... Seven goals are the most the Islanders have scored in a game this season, besting their previous high of five (twice: 10/11 vs. St. Louis; 1/29 @ Atlanta)... Attendance was 15,524... Saturday’s Modell Amateur Hockey Award Winner was Gina Wright from PAL women’s hockey and PAL junior team at the RINX in Happauge.
Click here to read "Bergie Builds Momentum."
35 Joey MacDonald
34 Yann Danis