Witt nets pair as Islanders win fourth in row
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:16 AM
-- After 861 games in the NHL, Brendan Witt finally got to experience what had eluded him since he first joined the Washington Capitals in 1995 -- a two-goal night.
The stay-at-home defenseman broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period and scored again just over 10 minutes later as the New York Islanders
won their fourth straight game with a 3-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers
at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Monday night.
"We had forwards going to the net, and you're just trying to get pucks on net," Witt said. "I thought we played pretty hard tonight and pretty disciplined. We need to just keep this thing rolling. We just want to get that mentality and be a consistent hockey team."
Edmonton (7-7-1), which has lost five of its last six games, broke a scoreless tie at 11:02 of the opening period on Ethan Moreau's second goal of the season. Moreau took advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the Islanders and beat Dwayne Roloson (22 saves) on a wraparound that went off the skate of Radek Martinek as the Oilers grabbed a 1-0 lead. Edmonton had been shut out in three of its last four.
"I wish we had a way to put a finger on what's missing right now," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "We sure shoot ourselves in the foot. We're a team that beats ourselves right now. They looked like the Harlem Globetrotters for a couple of shifts there."
Edmonton's lead was short-lived, as John Tavares
tied the game less than four minutes later. Moments after some tenacious forechecking behind the net by Doug Weight, linemate Matt Moulson
sent the puck out to the slot for Tavares and No. 91 one-timed a laser from between the circles past Nikolai Khabibulin
for his fifth goal of the season.
"On both sides of the ice, we're just not efficient enough," Moreau said. "We're not good enough in front of our goal. We don't block enough shots as forwards and we don't get enough pucks to the net offensively. That's what the game is. Everybody plays so well defensively now and there is just not much ice out there so you have to get pucks to the net. We are really reluctant lately to do that."
Witt gave the Isles their first lead of the night with his first goal since Jan. 22, 2008 -- a span of 92 games. The former first-round pick by the Capitals in 1993 took a pass from Frans Nielsen
and threw a harmless wrist shot off the left wing boards that found its way past Khabibulin to make it 2-1.
"We want our defensemen to get up into the play," Isles coach Scott Gordon said. "He's had a lot of shot opportunities from the blue line this year. It was good to see a couple find the back of the net."
"I wish we had a way to put a finger on what's missing right now. We sure shoot ourselves in the foot. We're a team that beats ourselves right now. They looked like the Harlem Globetrotters for a couple of shifts there." -- Oilers coach Pat Quinn
Witt -- who entered the game with just 23 career tallies -- scored again at 12:35 of the second, when he converted on Weight's feed from the left point on a wrist shot to give the Isles a two-goal edge. New York took the 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
"I got fortunate," Witt said. "The first one kind of caught Khabibulin. I don't think he was ready. The second one, I think it went off one of their guys. You never know what happens when you throw the puck to the net."
With Khabibulin pulled for an extra attacker late in the third period, Witt tried his best to complete the hat trick but came up short. No Islanders defenseman has scored three goals in a game since Hall of Famer Denis Potvin accomplished the feat on March 4, 1982.
"If it happens, it happens," Witt said. "It would have been nice."
Now that he's scored a pair of goals, Gordon was asked how he will utilize his newest weapon next.
"Put him in the shootout," he responded.
New York (5-4-5), which has recorded points in six straight games (4-0-2), will look for its fifth consecutive win on Wednesday night at Buffalo. The Isles -- who will play 9 of the next 10 and 14 of the next 17 on the road -- blanked the Sabres 5-0 on Saturday night at the Coliseum.
"It feels good," Gordon said. "It's something, as a group, we're not used to."
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com