In their sixth game of the 2010-11 season, the Islanders pulled out their first overtime victory when forward John Tavares roofed the puck over Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s left shoulder on the power play. Not only was the Monday night game the Maple Leafs first loss of the season, but the Toronto-based club also gave up their first goal on the penalty kill at the Air Canada Centre.
“It was just a great ending,” said John Tavares about scoring the game-winning goal in his hometown. “I think it was special being in my hometown so it’s definitely nice to contribute to the big win, first overtime win for the guys. So it’s just great to be back after missing a few games.”
While the Islanders came out with the victory, much of that was due to the performance of Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson who made exactly half of the saves he made in last season’s 4-3 overtime win against the Leafs on November 23, 2009 – when the goaltender made a phenomenal 58 saves. And in Monday night’s contest, two plays in front of Roloson were reviewed by the goal judge and deemed “no goal,” sending Toronto’s fans into a frenzy.
“Spectacular,” Tavares said about Roloson’s play Monday night. “I mean what he’s been able to do for us since he came here last year, he’s been tremendous and like I said, that composure he brings and the big saves when we need it, is just huge. It probably wasn’t our best game tonight but the difference is we found a way to win.”
The Islanders third win of the season propels them to a 3-1-2 record, tying the Capitals’ (4-1-0) eight points for a second place tie, falling short of first by one point to the Maple Leaf’s (4-0-1). That record is exactly what the Islanders young core of players needed this early in the season because it has shown the team that all of their hard work is coming to fruition and it is giving them the confidence they need to continue.
“The approach these guys have had has been tremendous since day one of training camp,” said Islanders head coach Scott Gordon. “I think we have some guys that have come in to our organization that really have set a standard in our locker room to go along with the enthusiasm of the youth of our team. So it’s a combination of things, but I think the biggest thing is just guys are just really enthusiastic about being in the situation that we’re in.”
The Islanders never would have tallied two points Monday night if it weren’t for the early goal in the second period scored by forward Matt Moulson. At 2:17, the winger deked Giguere and backhanded the puck up into the top left corner of the net after receiving John Tavares’ pass from Frans Nielsen.
The Islanders then led the game for 35:38, killing off two additional penalties in the second after Francois Beauchemin was called for tripping just 12 seconds into the period. But the Leafs lone goal of the game sent the teams into overtime after forward Phil Kessel burried his fifth goal of the season at 17:55 of the third, snapping the puck with a one-timer just 35 seconds into the power play (James Wisniewski, cross checking at17:20).
“I thought our penalty kill did a great job,” Gordon said. “It was tough luck when (Dion) Phaneuf shot and the blocked shot went right to (Phil) Kessel who scored it. Overall though, I was really happy with our special teams. They came up big when they had to.”
The most important part of the Islanders special teams’ performance came 3:26 into the overtime period when Tavares tallied the game-winner on the power play. Just 19 seconds after Brett Lebda went to the box for Toronto for goaltender interference, James Wisniewski passed to PA Parenteau, who passed back to Wisniewski on the umbrella to find Tavares at the right faceoff dot for the slap shot.
With their first road victory, the Islanders will continue their road trip as they travel to Florida to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and the Panthers on Friday before returning to Canada to faceoff against the Canadiens. The Islanders will then play one game at home before heading out onto the road for three more games.
“We have a big road trip coming up here,” said Roloson. “This whole month, we’re going to be on the road a lot so just to get over the hump and get a win on the road early in the season is always great for the team’s confidence… and hopefully we can carry that over into our trip.”
1 - 0 NYI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI
Interference - Goalkeeper
Interference - Goalkeeper