Nathan Lawson wasn't supposed to play in front of family and friends in his hometown Monday night.
But he did. And in the process, he created a memory that none of them will ever forget.
Promoted from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League after the New York Islanders traded Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay on Saturday, Lawson replaced an injured Rick DiPietro in goal and stopped 28 of 29 shots in a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"That was awesome … it was a dream come true," said Lawson, an undrafted free agent who has been in the Isles' minor-league system since the 2007-08 season. "When I was in there, I was pretty focused on the game. I just want to keep the ball rolling now. I felt good in there. I felt comfortable. There wasn't many second-chance opportunities, which makes my job a lot easier."
DiPietro made 13 saves and was credited with the win despite the lower-body injury that was suffered during the second period. DiPietro was removed for precautionary reasons and likely won't miss much -- if any -- time.
"Sometimes as a player, you have to be saved from yourself," DiPietro told Newsday. "It was a little tweak and I'll be back as soon as possible. It's how I feel when I wake up, and what the trainers say. Then we'll go from there."
"You could see he was in pain, but he consciously stopped and told me I'd be alright in there," Lawson said of DiPietro. "We have a great friendship. I just feel so bad that he had to go down like that."
John Tavares had two goals and an assist and Matt Moulson also scored twice for the Isles (12-19-6), who are 7-1-1 in their last nine games and moved within two points of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings. Michael Grabner scored an empty-net goal, while Andrew MacDonald and PA Parenteau each had two assists.
"We showed up halfway through the game. The first 30 minutes was missed," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. "You're looking at two different hockey games. A game we can't play and a game we're better at.
"We weren't assertive. We didn't respect our opponent enough."
"No matter who we play, we're trying to get above .500 in here, so it stings," he said. "We knew they (won in) Detroit (last Friday). That they were 6-1-1, or something like that, coming in. We knew they'd be ready to work. We didn't match them."
The Islanders raced out to a 3-1 in the first period. Tavares scored on the power play at 3:37, before Moulson doubled the lead at 8:29.
Moss got one back for Calgary just over three minutes later, but Tavares scored his second of the night and third point of the period at 13:25.
"Things are starting to pay off," Tavares said. "We're starting to find that chemistry. We're just outworking other teams. We keep stressing how we need to be better each and every day. We'll do the same thing next game (Thursday at Edmonton). We've got to be better."
Moulson made it 4-1 at 3:06 of the third but Moss again cut the New York lead with his second at 13:22. Moss had a great chance for the hat trick late in the period, but Lawson robbed the Flames forward.
"He was pretty excited when he got in there," Isles interim coach Jack Capuano said of Lawson. "He did the job for us."
Grabner iced the game with his empty-net goal with just over a minute remaining in the third.
"We had a great first and third period," Tavares said. "The second period, we were a little tentative. We let them get a little bit of momentum. It was a good job by everybody."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
1 - 0 NYI
2 - 0 NYI
2 - 1 NYI
3 - 1 NYI
4 - 1 NYI
4 - 2 NYI
5 - 2 NYI
Interference on goalkeeper