UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Dec. 22, 2010) – Tied up at 1-1 with over a minute remaining in the extra session, Islanders center John Tavares put back a rebound off a shot from the point by James Wisniewski to power New York to a 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in an Eastern Conference match-up on Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. With the result, the Isles improved to a record of 7-18-6 on the season. They have also now collected at least one point in each of the last three games.
“We got off to a slow start, and it took a little while for us to get our legs going, but we moved our feet and played hard all game long,” stated Tavares. “The goal was big for us. We needed and were happy to get the two points against a tough Tampa Bay team…In the last three games, there has been a different flow, and we need to keep ourselves focused…In the past, we were giving up opportunities to win games. Now, we can hopefully turn things around, and put some more wins together for the team and our fans.”
“It was great to see Johnny (Tavares) get a goal,” stated Dwayne Roloson, who knocked down 34 of 35 shots in net for the Islanders, and earned the first star of the game. “We have had a lot of chances, and have not been getting them lately.” When asked about his recent hiatus from the net, in which he has made three starts in the last 20 games, Roloson had stated: “It is always a concern after not playing for a while. But, I have been a doing a lot of work and it has paid off for me so far.”
During the first period, the Islanders got a couple of early chances in the opening four minutes. Josh Bailey and Rob Schremp each had a shot from the slot, but were stoned by Lightning goalie Dan Ellis, who came into the game with a 9-5-4 mark and a 3.11 goals-against average. But, it was Ryan Malone that broke the 0-0 stalemate at the 8:32 mark. With Trevor Gillies’ penalty for interference near expiration, Malone tapped a loose puck in the left side netting for Tampa Bay’s league-leading 36th power-play marker of the 2010-11 campaign.
Steven Stamkos was tabbed with an assist on the tally. The point was his 48th of the year, which sits him second in the National Hockey League in that category. Blake Comeau had a late short-handed opportunity for the Isles at the 5:42 juncture, but his shot from the left wing was stopped by Ellis, who saved all three shots that went his direction in the opening stanza. His counterpart, Roloson, saved 15 of the Lightning’s 16 shots in the period.
In the second period, which started off uneventful, the Islanders picked up the pace just before the closing of the stanza. With 3:20 remaining, Michael Grabner had an open-net look after a great pass from Wisniewski, but his attempt on a tip-in just missed his stick. Two minutes later, Blake Comeau went up against Ellis on an odd-man rush. However, his chance was also unsuccessful. It was P.A. Parenteau that broke through for the Isles as he picked up his sixth goal of the season with 17 seconds to go off a feed from Tavares.
On the play, Tavares skated down the defensive zone to wave off an icing. He then played the puck back towards Parenteau, who unleashed a shot from the right circle into the short side for the equalizer. During the stanza, the Isles held a 10-9 m in shots, while the Lightning owned the advantage in the faceoff circle as they won 57.8 percent (11-for-19) of the pucks dropped between the hash marks.
New York went right to work in the third period as the hosts got a pair of quality chances in the first three-plus minutes. Parenteau went to a backhand shot against Ellis on a breakaway, while alternate captain Mark Eaton slapped a shot from the point, which were both saved. Soon after, Frans Nielsen received a pair of short-handed chances, but his respective shots went wide, and got stopped by Ellis. Dominic Moore had the lone chance in a period dominated by the Islanders with 11:27 left. Roloson came up with a big glove save though.
In the game’s overall scheme, Tavares stuffed home the clincher. Andrew MacDonald had this to say about his New York teammate as well as the game-winner: “Johnny has been working hard. During the play, I looked and saw that Wisniewski was wide open. He gave the pass into Johnny, who went hard to the net, and got the big goal for us.” MacDonald also feels that this contest and three-game point streak will turn things around. “Times have been tough, but we are now highly relieved to be getting points and our winning attitude back.”
The Islanders are back on the ice tomorrow night (Dec. 23) when they face their Atlantic Division arch-rivals, the New Jersey Devils, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
“We are looking forward to playing the Devils tomorrow,” said Islanders leading goal-scorer Matt Moulson. “The game is in New Jersey, and it should be a great one.”