NY Islanders Start Strong, Finish Off Blues 5-2
It was a successful home debut for Scott Gordon as the Islanders handled the St. Louis Blues with a 5-2 victory tonight at Nassau Coliseum. Five different Islanders lit the lamp.
Just as they did last night, the Islanders got off to a fast start as Mike Comrie fired home a rebound at 2:18 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Richard Park and Kyle Okposo earned assists on the play.
Unlike last night, the Isles kept the pressure on and never really looked back.
Trent Hunter scored on the power play from Doug Weight at 13:47 to make it 2-0, and Sean Bergenheim followed that up at 15:20 with helpers going to Andy Hilbert and Bruno Gervais.
Brad Boyes brought the Blues to within two at 17:23 of the first, and with the Blues going to the power play shortly thereafter, it looked like the Islanders might lose their edge.
But Andy Hilbert converted a Mark Streit feed from in close for a shorthanded goal and the Isles had their three-goal lead back. Gervais notched his second assist of the game on the play.
The second period was scoreless but was notable for the beginning of a malaise that endured into the third period. During this stretch, the Islanders were less crisp and intense. A team better than the Blues might have made them pay for the lapse.
Perhaps the loss of Radek Martinek to injury near the end of the first period was somewhat responsible. It is early in the season for a team still learning its system and with a few new defensemen to adjust well to playing down a blueliner—especially one as important as Martinek.
In the third, the Blues pulled to within two once again when Keith Tkachuk scored on the power play at the 7:47 mark. This is where you can give the Islanders a lot of credit. They refocused, tightened up, and kept the Blues at bay without falling back into a defensive shell. Bill Guerin put the game away with an empty-net goal with just under a minute remaining.
Meanwhile, Joey MacDonald was strong in goal once again. Filling in for a recovering Rick DiPietro for a second consecutive night, MacDonald stopped 24 of 26 shots to earn his first victory as an Islander.
- Is everybody feeling a little better about MacDonald being a capable backup for DiPietro? Of course, MacDonald hasn't actually served as the backup yet. We'll have to see how he does after sitting for 10 or 15 straight games. But his play thus far is enough to make everyone stop worrying about Wade Dubielewicz being in Russia.
- Gervais appeared to be on the outside looking in as the season started. But he has now started the first two games and is making something of the opportunity. If Martinek is out for any length of time, Gervais could be called upon for some important assignments. Tryouts to play alongside Streit on the power play also continue.
- Bergenheim's play suggests that his development is continuing right on schedule and he has every intention of being an impact player.
- Ten different Islanders hit the scoresheet tonight.
- Jack Hillen, Josh Bailey, and Blake Comeau were scratched.
Fantasy Report—Game 2
Tonight's Fantasy Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, +1, 2 shots, 2 blocked shots, 4 PIMs, 2 hits)
2nd Star: Doug Weight (2 A, 1 PPA, +1, 1 shot, 2 blocked shots, 2 hits)
3rd Star: Mark Streit (1 A, 1 SHA, +2, 2 blocked shots, 3 hits)
4th Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 PPG, 3 shots, 1 blocked shot, 3 hits)
5th Star (tie): Bruno Gervais (2 A, 1 SHA, +1, 2 blocked shots, 1 hit), Joey MacDonald (W, 24 saves on 26 shots)
The forwards on the first power play unit continue to be Guerin, Weight, and Jon Sim. The second trio is Comrie, Frans Nielsen, and Hunter. Streit is the powerhorse on the point with Gervais getting the most time with him tonight. Freddy Meyer and Thomas Pock also saw signficant time at the point with the man advantage.
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