As far as 15 year contracts go on the Island, I'm not saying you want to lock up John Tavares just yet but I'd give it a few more games. However it was Sidney Crosby from start to finish saying not so fast there Sparky!
Crosby got Pittsburgh on the board in Uniondale with his second of the season, past Dwayne Roloson. Then the Islanders went on the power play where their most consistent player from a year ago Mark Streit lit the lamp and was assisted by Kyle Okposo and Tavares to tie things at 1-1. In the second Tavares got a PPG of his own, the first of his NHL career, staking New York to a 2-1 edge. Then the Pens really turned up the heat in the third, out shooting the Isles 18-5 and after being down 3-2 knotted it up on a Ruslan Fedotenko goal. After OT it was all Penguins in the shootout on goals from Kris Letang and Crosby. Former Albany River Rat Michael Rupp picked up a five minute fighting major. Pittsburgh will be sad not to play against either New York team until Thanksgiving (and I'm not talking about the Canadian one next Monday).
From the Island of Long to the Island of Manhattan where the New York Rangers looked to rebound against the Ottawa Senators. Rangers got on the board early in the second when my cousin Vinny Prospal who played for the Sens about a decade ago, put New York up one. Then Brandon Dubie-Dubie-Doo (enjoy the bud light but uh beware of the penguins) Dubinsky netted one of his two tallies on the night for a 2-0 advantage. Old reliable Daniel Alfredsson also responded in the second from Jason Spezza, cutting the lead in half. Imagine if the Islanders had Spezza and Tavares on the same line? Moving on Blueshirts rookie Michael Del Zotto who has impressed thus far, got that one back for the Garden faithful near the end of the period. Marian Gaborik (imagine if this guy stays healthy) notched his second goal as a Ranger midway into the third. From there it was pretty much a foregone conclusion as the Rangers rolled 5-2. Former Albany River Rat Aaron Voros fought with the Sens Mike Fisher at the end of regulation.
Heading down the turnpike where if you didn't think the New Jersey Devils were a dynasty in demise yet, it may be going that way after getting smashed by the Philadelphia Flyers. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards may be the most underrated tandem in the league. The two who scored in a 2-0 blanking of the Hurricanes, helped build up a 4-0 mountain climb for the Devils and Marty Brodeur (where are you Scott Clemmensen?). Former original Albany River Rat Brian Rolston broke the shutout in the third on the power play and was assisted by ex-Rat Nicklas Bergfors and by Dainius Zubrus who had two on the night. Philly then struck back with Matt Carle who was assisted by Chris Pronger, Pronger's second assist on the night as well as the Flyers rolled 5-2. By the way Anssi Salmela scored for Atlanta against Tampa Bay. And Jaques Lemaire was brought in to shore up the defense? Yikes!
Or maybe the Devils should have tried to hang onto Brian Gionta, as we shuffle off to Buffalo for the Sabres and Montreal Canadiens. Tim Connolly (imagine Connolly, Spezza and Tavares on a line Islander fans) busted through for Buffalo in the first on the power play. Then Travis Moen, buy it for looks buy it for life, bought himself and the Habs a shorty and a tie game midway through the second. Buffalo out shot Montreal 11-1 in the third, but hey the Canadiens toppled the Leafs in OT after getting out shot that game too right? And so it was to be, the Rochester Rocket back in Western New York for the 2-1 winner! Gionta the former Albany River Rat was assisted by the other one third to make up the old New Jersey "EGG line," Scott Gomez. How long is it until the final third Patrik Elias wants to join them?
Other Nightly Notables: Former Albany River Rat Brendan Morrison picked up his first goal and assist with the Washington Capitals while one time Adirondack Red Wing Mike Knuble netted his first as the Caps beat Toronto 6-4. Former Rat defenseman Jeff Finger picked up an assist along the way for the Leafs.
In Boston where the Carolina Hurricanes were routed 7-2 by the Bruins, former Rats goalie Michael Leighton turned away 11 of 14 shots in "relief" of Cam Ward and speaking of Ward, Aaron the former Adirondack Red Wing defenseman and Boston Bruin himself registered an assist on Scott Walker's (irony much?) first goal of the season.
Down in Dallas former Albany River Rats star Steve Sullivan scored his first goal of the year in the second to put Nashville out front 2-0. The Predators went on to beat the Stars 3-2 after a 2-1 shootout victory.
AHL Notes: Big night for AHL action in the greater Capital District with the Albany River Rats and Adirondack Phantoms drawing a combined 11,918 on Saturday night. Unfortunately both clubs lost, Albany dropping a 6-3 decision to Manchester and Adirondack in the last minute to Worcester and Clifton Park native Nick Petrecki 3-2. The Rats valiantly tied things at three in the third (Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk impressed me the most on the night) but were only one of six on the power play and looked a couple of steps behind the Monarchs when it came to their defense and goaltending and they may want to recruit another enforcer. Albany's new black alternate jerseys (poor Zack Fitzgerald got his torn up) reminded me of the Buffalo Sabres circa 1999, good stuff. Hopefully Mike Angelidis is alright.
But hey hockey's back, gotta love that!