UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Oct. 13, 2011) – John Tavares led all players with a game-best four points on two goals in addition to a pair of assists, all of which came in the first period, as the New York Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-1 in an Eastern Conference match-up at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. As a result, the Isles have now won two in a row, and move to 2-1 on the year. Meanwhile, the Lightning have dropped three straight, falling to 1-2-1 overall.
“We are picking up points, and taking what we can get during the early homestand,” said Tavares. “We were hungry and played hard. It was not pretty, but with skill and great goaltending, we got it done.” In regards to the scoring performance, the former No. 1 pick of the NHL Draft stated: “It is always nice to break the ice. I had a positive feeling, and got rewarded. We are continuing on the good opportunities we got from Monday’s win.”
New York came out flying in the opening period, as Tavares struck twine only 36 seconds in. He took over on a miscue by Tampa Bay in the offensive zone, and fired a shot off the glove of former Islander netminder Dwayne Roloson. But, on the ensuing clear attempt, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman tapped the puck into his own net, giving the Isles the quick 1-0 cushion. 2010-11 NHL leading scorer Steven Stamkos answered for Tampa Bay just seven minutes later as he re-directed a Marc-Andre Bergeron through the five-hole to tie it up.
Matt Moulson quickly gave the hosts the lead again with 9:28 left. On the play, Marc Eaton hit the iron from the point. The rebound then shifted to Tavares, who handed the puck off to Matt Moulson for his first marker of the season. Tavares wasn’t done just yet. He tacked on another tally, in addition to an assist on a P.A. Parenteau goal, staking him four points through one. On the marker, which came in tic-tac-toe style, Tavares one-timed a Moulson pass by Roloson for his second goal of the game. The Isles eventually went into the break up 4-1.
“We got good things out of our line,” said Moulson. “The timing was a lot better. We worked hard, and needed a quick spark, which we got from Johnny (Tavares) on that first goal.” In regards to keeping the opposition off the scoreboard, Moulson stated this: “The whole team did a good job of forechecking. There were not a lot of odd man rushes, and we continued to sustain pressure throughout the game.”
In the second period, Tampa Bay had the early opportunities, as Ryan Shannon, and Mattias Ritola paced the Lightning on their combined three tries. However, Shannon’s transition shot, and Ritola’s two stuff-in tries were knocked away by New York goalie Al Montoya. After that, the Islanders got back to their first-period ways, as Michael Grabner found the back of the net to make it 5-1 with 13:13 to go. Kyle Okposo was credited with the assist after his rebound caromed behind Roloson, and Grabner was there to tap the puck over the line.
Guy Boucher then made a change in goal for the ‘Bolts, replacing Roloson with Mathieu Garon, who came in sporting a 0-1 mark with a 4.01 goals-against average. From there, the Isles were unable to strike again for the remainder of the stanza, which included a near one-minute, 5-on-3 two-man advantage opportunity off hooking and interference penalties by Vincent Lecavalier and Pavel Kubina. Over the last minutes of the period, Tampa hoped to cut the deficit, but it was to no avail, as New York went into the second intermission up 5-1.
During a physical third period, both squads combined for four trips to the sin bin. Neither team knocked home a marker though in the 20-minute stint though, and the Isles soon posted a 5-1 win in front of 9,000 strong at the Nassau Coliseum. Furthermore, New York achieved the greatest scoring chance during that stretch. Down one player (Tavares) on a two-minute hooking penalty, Grabner had a shorthanded look. Trying to go between the pads, Garon closed up the five-hole at the 14:26 mark.
Head Coach Jack Capuano had this to say about the overall effort. “I don’t think it was easy. We made some mistakes, but capitalized on our chances. I thought it was big that we got out of the gate early. The sticks were great, and the gap was good…We adjusted well at times, put on some good pressure, and got pucks where we needed to get them.”
Capuano and the Islanders cap their season-opening four-game homestand on Saturday (Oct. 15) versus the arch-rival New York Rangers in an Atlantic Division battle at Nassau Coliseum. The puck drops at 7 p.m.