In their first game on the road during the 2010-11 season, the Islanders suffered their first regulation loss when they fell to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night 2-1 after a shot from Alexander Ovechkin deflected off of Nicklas Backstrom’s toe to find the back of the net on the power play.
Even though the Capitals (3-1-0) came away with the win, Islanders (1-1-1) veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson couldn’t be blamed for letting in the game-winning goal as he played a great game between the pipes for the Islanders, making 24 saves.
“Oh he played awesome,” said Islanders forward Blake Comeau. “He held us in there the whole game, especially in the second period when they were on our heals a little bit, so I’m glad to see him back in net and it’s one of the benefits of having two good goalies on our team.”
Tallied when the Capitals had a five-on-four advantage, Nicklas Backstrom was credited with the game-winner with a tip-in goal off a slapshot from Ovechkin at 16:21 of the third – when the puck really deflected off of the forward’s skate before going into the net.
“Yeah, I mean we did a lot of right things on our penalty kill, especially after our first one we tightened things up and I liked what we did,” Islanders head coach Scott Gordon said. “Ovechkin shoots the puck and it goes off Backstrom’s toe when he trying to move his foot and it still hits his foot and found the back of the net, those are tough to defend.”
But the call that sent Comeau to the box to serve a two-minute penalty for roughing at 15:55 of the third was questioned by Coach Gordon who said he watched the play on replay and didn’t agree with the call. He added, “Well the guy he went to hit actually pushed his arms up into Blake (Comeau) and I don’t think his arms even got close to his face.”
Comeau agreed with his coach.
“I didn’t agree with it (the call),” Comeau said. “I thought I missed the guy completely and he (the referee) said it looked like I was trying to hit him high and that he’s got to call it, so I don’t really understand the call, but it is what it is I guess.”
The Islanders were zero for three on the power play, a stat that was a little unexpected, as the club scored half of their goals this season on the power play before Wednesday night’s contest.
Yeah, we didn’t score any power play goals, but I thought we had some good movements considering how good their penalty kill is. It’s not easy to beat that kind of pressure, but I thought we moved the puck around and we did have some chances. So we have to build off of that.- Blake Comeau
“Yeah, we didn’t score any power play goals, but I thought we had some good movements considering how good their penalty kill is,” Comeau said. (The Capitals have a 100 percent penalty kill ranking after playing in four games this season). “It’s not easy to beat that kind of pressure, but I thought we moved the puck around and we did have some chances. So we have to build off of that.”
While the Islanders didn’t win, Islanders rookie winger Nino Niederreiter tallied the team’s first goal of the game at 3:14 of the first, which was also the first goal of his professional career. He was also the game’s third star.
The newest member of the Islanders roster, forward Michael Grabner, set up the goal when he passed to Islanders captain Doug Weight just below the goal line. Weight then passed to Niederreiter, who fired off a wrist shot finding it’s way through Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth’s legs.
At just 18 years and 35 days, Niederreiter became the youngest player in franchise history to score a goal for the club, as he also set the record for the youngest Islander player to play an NHL game when he made his debut on Saturday night in the 5-4 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars. Even though the rookie was happy to get his first NHL goal, he was still disappointed by the loss.
“The end result wasn’t too good, but I think as a team we did a great job,” Niederreiter said. “We had a good effort. We were (winning) until (right before) the third period, but in the end it didn’t work out. But obviously it’s a great feeling to score my first NHL goal.”
The Islanders were able to keep the lead through 36:55 of ice time - the majority of the first and second period - until Alexander Ovechkin tied it up with a wrist shot that found its way through Mark Eaton’s legs before skirting past Roloson at 18:19 of the second.
“I thought we played well in the first and dominated in the third and had some chances, but we cost ourselves a goal there with a turnover in the second period and that’s something we can’t have,” said Comeau.
The Islanders will play their second game of a two-game road trip at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Friday night when they faceoff against the Penguins.
1 - 0 NYI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 WSH