On Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders took the Vancouver Canucks for a spin as Blake Comeau scored a go-ahead goal in the third period, but were ultimately defeated when Ryan Kessler scored in the shootout for a 4-3 win.
“It’s a good hockey team that we played,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “I’m real proud of the guys and the effort that we put in tonight. We had a long road trip. We came back at 3-2. In the first period, it took us a little while to get our legs back under us. But I couldn’t be more proud of the guys after the effort we gave tonight against a great hockey team.”
In the last three weeks, the Islanders have posted 8-3-2 in their last 13 games, proving that they are a team that works hard and is tough to beat. But it was Roberto Luongo who stopped PA Parenteau and John Tavares in the shootout for the win after making 38 saves through 65 minutes of play.
Rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin stood confident in the crease and was the calm that weathered the storm. In his second NHL start, he faced 20 shots in the first period, while the Islanders defensive core held the Canucks to 10 shots in the second. Ultimately, Poulin faced a total of 51 shots through 65 minutes.
“It was a great challenge,” Poulin said about facing Vancouver. “They are good. They are really good. They have good players, and they have a good team. They have a good goaltender, and I think we played a really good game. We got one big point.”
Goaltender Kevin Poulin #60 of the New York Islanders makes a save off of Jannik Hansen #36 of the Vancouver Canucks on January 11, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
Capuano had nothing but good things to say about the Islanders goaltending.
“Kevin played excellent tonight,” Capuano said. “He was seeing the pucks, he controlled his rebounds. He saw enough shots obviously, but he played extremely well for us and he gave us a chance to win the hockey game.”
In the shootout, Poulin stopped former Islanders forward Jeff Tambellini, but after Mason Raymond tied the shootout, Ryan Kessler netted the game winner.
“That’s my first (shootout) in the NHL and I didn’t have any this year in the AHL,” Poulin said. “I might be a little (rusty), but it’s been a little while.”
However, Poulin was just one player that factored into the Islanders top performance.
The Islanders played extremely well defensively. The Canucks rank first in the league on the power play, with 25.0 overall and 29.1 on the road, but the Islanders penalty killers didn’t allow them to convert on either of their opportunities after Jeremy Colliton took two penalties (holding and hooking) in the first period.
“I thought all the guys back there played well tonight,” Capuano said. “They have some quick forwards, and they do a great job of protecting, a good job of finding seams, good net presence, and I thought our guys stood tall back there tonight. All six guys played terrific.”
Comeau scored the Islanders go-ahead goal at 14:24 of the third period, bringing the Islanders ahead 3-2. But 34 seconds later, Kevin Bieksa tied the score at three to send the game into overtime.
Before Tuesday night’s contest, the Canucks ranked sixth in the league in penalty kill ranking, but the Islanders were still able to convert. Tavares was able to net a power play goal 3:14 into the third period to even the score (2-2) for the second time.
Tanner Glass #15 of the Vancouver Canucks chases Jack Hillen #38 of the New York Islanders on January 11, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
“The second and third were good periods for us other than probably just a lot of shots against,” Tavares said. “But we limited penalties, limited most of their chances.”
Alexandre Burrows scored 4:58 into the first period to give the Canucks the initial lead, but at 15:13 Jack Hillen gave the Islanders back their momentum when his goal tied the score at one. However, Ryan Kessler scored to once again give the Canucks a lead (2-1) with 15.4 seconds left in the second period.
The Islanders could have let the first period get to them, but they regrouped during the intermission and came out with the right intensity to match Vancouver.
“I mean we lost in the shootout,” Hillen said. “Basically it was a tie, but it was a good effort. For the first period we had to figure something out there but it’s nice when we can consistently stay positive on the bench and battle back when we get down.”
The Islanders face the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.