Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares all scored goals as the Islanders took round one of the 2009-10 edition of cross town rivalry with the New York Rangers with a 3-1 victory in front of 15,213 fans at the Nassau Coliseum.
With the Islanders holding a one-goal lead in the third period, Tavares upped the advantage to 3-1 with 5:06 remaining in the third period with his fourth goal of the season.
Tavares took a Jeff Tambellini drop pass deep in the Rangers zone and looked to send a cross-ice pass over to Doug Weight. However, the pass deflected off Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and found its way to the back of the net to give the Islanders a two-goal lead.
"I just kept working at it," said Tavares. "I kept moving my feet and trying to take pucks to the net I just got lucky enough there to get the insurance one tonight."
The Islanders have struggled to hold a third period lead so far this season, but to maintain it against their crosstown rivals was the product of a team effort.
"I think consistently for a full game, it was a great game by everybody," Tavares said. "They way we locked it down in the third period and shut them down was great. Everyone played hard, and it was a great game to be a part of."
Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon was also pleased with the effort his team put in the third period.
"We've talked about it for a while, just capitalizing on the opportunity in the third period to put some separation between them," Gordon said. "For the most part we had some pretty tight defense. Our guys kept pushing the pace and I think we did a good job."
Moulson got things started almost immediately, as he gave the Islanders a quick 1-0 lead just 55 seconds into the first period. Moulson received a break out pass from Jack Hillen and skated in all alone on Lundqvist and fired the puck over the Rangers blocker for his sixth goal of the season.
PA Parenteau answered back for the Rangers to tie the game at 1-1, 8:30 into the opening frame with his first career NHL goal. Parenteau, a recent callup from Hartford in the AHL, capitalized on a loose puck deep in the Islanders zone and skated his way in front of Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson. The Rangers rookie then backhanded the puck over the Isles goaltender’s shoulder for to even up the game.
The Rangers nearly took a one-goal lead seven minutes into the second period. With the Rangers leading a 2-on-1 rush with Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal the duo executed a give and go that looked to lead to a Rangers goal. However, Callahan rung the puck off the post to keep the Rangers off the board.
For Roloson, a veteran now in his 12th season, comparing the hype of an Islanders-Rangers rivalry is no different than what he experienced in the Western Conference.
"The hype here and there is a little bit different, but it's pretty much the same thing," Roloson said. "It’s playoff atmosphere and it’s great hockey to play in. Obviously it’s fun for us when the building is full like it was tonight."
Okposo gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead with 1:46 left in the second period with a power play goal. With Sean Avery in the penalty box serving a hooking minor, Okposo was in the right spot at the right time, capitalizing on a rebound from a Jack HIllen wrist shot, and firing the puck past Lundqvist for his second goal of the season.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Dwayne Roloson, NYI: 34 saves for second win of the season.
2. Kyle Okposo, NYI: Goal, 7 shots.
3. Jack Hillen, NYI: Two assists.
Slapshots: Rangers held the overall advantage in shots, 35-32...Mark Streit led all Islanders with 23:23 of ice time...Islanders were 1-for-2 with the man advantage, while the Rangers were scoreless on three opportunities...With two assists tonight, four out of Jack Hillen's 10 career points have come against the Rangers...Rob Schremp, Freddy Meyer, and Blake Comeau were the Islanders scratches...Islanders are 99-102-19-3 all-time against the Rangers.
Forwards 26 Matt Moulson - 91 John Tavares - 21 Kyle Okposo
20 Sean Bergenheim - 51 Frans Nielsen - 16 Jon Sim
51 Jeff Tambellini - 12 Josh Bailey - 93 Doug Weight
11 Nate Thompson - 10 Richard Park - 28 Tim Jackman NEW YORK RANGERS Goaltenders 30 Henrik Lunqvist
40 Steve Valiquette
Defensemen 18 Marc Staal - 5 Dan Girardi
97 Matt Gilroy - 6 Wade Redden
33 Michal Rozsival - 4 Michael Del Zotto
16 Sean Avery - 23 Chris Drury - 12 Alex Kotalik
81 Enver Lisin - 20 Vinny Prospal - 24 Ryan Callahan
38 PA Parenteau - 17 Brandon Dubinsky - 21 Christopher Higgins
34 Aaron Voros - 42 Artem Anisimov - 22 Brian Boyle