Tavares tallies goal, assist, but Crosby shootout goal downs Isles, 4-3 in season opener
The Islanders were unable to open up the 2009-2010 season in victorious fashion, falling to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3 in a shootout, which saw John Tavares score his first NHL goal.
Kris Letang opened the scoring for the Penguins, managing to sneak a wrist shot through the legs of Islander goaltender Dwayne Roloson. After Tavares missed the net on his opportunity, Sidney Crosby sealed the victory for the Penguins, firing a wrist shot through Roloson for the victory.
Tavares would tally his first career NHL goal to put the Islanders up 2-1 in the second period. With Mark Eaton in the penalty box for a hooking minor, Tavares corralled a loose puck in front of Fleury and backhanded it past the sprawled Penguin net-minder at the 7:09 mark of the second period. Matt Moulson and Trent Hunter both earned assists on the play.
"It was awesome for a lot of reasons," Tavares said. "Playing in your first game and having great support from the fans all night. To have a guy like Matt Moulson, a guy who I grew up with for quite a while back home, for him to get an assist and to be there with me, it was kind of unique and special."
Despite the result however, Tavares was encouraged by the play of his team.
"We really played our style and got the crowd into it," Tavares said. "I think we played true Islander hockey. Its definitely disappointing on the result. Theres a lot of positives to take from it."
Crosby opened the scoring in the first period to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. The Penguin captain took a lead pass from former Islander Ruslan Fedotenko deep in the Penguins zone and entered the Islanders zone on a two-on-one rush.
The Penguin center cut behind the Islander defense and slid the puck between Roloson's legs for the one-goal lead at 8:50 of the first period.
A minute later, tensions began to flare as Tim Jackman and Penguins' center Michael Rupp dropped the gloves by the Pittsburgh bench. Both players tangled for well over a minute before the officials stepped in to break the combatants apart.
Immediately following that, Brendan Witt nailed Fedotenko with an open-ice hit, which both Evgeni Malkin and Jay McKee took exception to. As Malkin and Witt exchanged shoves, McKee jumped in and challenged the Islanders defenseman. Both Malkin and McKee received minors on the play, leading to a five-on-three powerplay.
The Islanders took advantage of the five-on-three advantage, as Mark Streit evened the score at one goal apiece in the opening frame. Streit took a pass from Kyle Okposo just above the blue-line and blasted a slapshot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at 12:40 of the first period for his first of the season.
Islanders' Head Coach, Scott Gordon was impressed with the chances his team had.
"I think our effort was there for 60-plus minutes," Gordon said. "We scored some pretty nice goals and generated some great chances. First game I think we got to come away with this that it was an exciting game and our guys competed hard."
In the second period, Tavares had a golden opportunity to net his second of the night on a breakaway just three minutes following his first goal. Tavares took a lead pass from Kyle Okposo and skated in all alone on Fleury, but the Penguins' goaltender made a beautiful glove save to keep the Islanders lead at one.
The Penguins tied things up at 7:19 in the third period, as Mark Eaton scored his first of the season. Eaton sent an innocent wrist shot towards Roloson, which deflected off of Jon Sim's stick and found its way to the back of the net, to pull the Penguins even with the Islanders.
Just 27 seconds later, Trent Hunter put the Islanders back up by a goal with his first of the year to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead. Hunter positioned himself right at the hashmarks and one-timed a Josh Bailey backhand feed past Fleury to quickly answer back.
Fedotenko tied things up for the Penguins late in the third period, tallying his first of the season. With Roloson sprawled out on the ice trying to cover the puck, the former Islander scooped up a loose puck and shot it off of defenseman Bruno Gervais' skate and past the Islanders' netminder to tie things at, 3-3.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Sidney Crosby, PIT: Goal, assist 2. John Tavares, NYI: First NHL goal, assist 3. Kris Letang, PIT: Scored shootout winner, assist.
Slapshots: Penguins outshot the Islanders 42-28...Mark Streitled all Islanders with 26:24 of ice time...Matt Moulson led all Islanders with 5 shots on goal...Islanders were 2-for6 on the power play, while the Penguins were scoreless on three power play opportunities...Kyle Okposo, Brendan Witt, and Streit wore the As as the designated alternate captains...Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, along with Islanders owner Charles Wang, and Islanders greats Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier dropped the ceremonial first puck prior to the start of the game...Rob Schremp, Jack Hillen, and Blake Comeau were the Islanders scratches