After a combined 92 shots on goal couldn't determine the winner, Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler scored in the shootout to give the Vancouver Canucks a thrilling 4-3 victory against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"They had a good pushback," Kesler said of the Islanders, who allowed 20 shots in the opening period. "They're a young team over there, and they work really hard. Obviously, they probably got a talking to after that first period. They responded well. They're a resilient team and we kept pushing back and they kept pushing back. It was a good game."
Raymond and Kesler beat rookie goalie Kevin Poulin, who put forth a dazzling performance and made 48 saves in 65 minutes. He was bested by Roberto Luongo (38 saves), who denied PA Parenteau and John Tavares in the shootout after Rob Schremp scored in the opening round.
But the game never would have required a shootout if not for the Islanders' fifth-round pick in 2008, who made just his second NHL start after winning at Colorado last Saturday.
"I feel great out there," Poulin said. "We played the best team in the League and I think I looked OK."
Poulin's performance certainly didn't go unnoticed by the opposition. Luongo -- the Isles' first-round pick from 1997, was impressed with the 20-year-old.
"He played well," the Canucks' goaltender said. "He was square and put his big body in front of a lot of pucks. He'll have some success in this League if he keeps doing that. We found a way to win and we'll move on."
Tuesday marked the beginning of a five-game road trip for the Canucks, who'll face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. Vancouver also extended its franchise-record unbeaten streak in regulation to 17 games (14-0-3).
Vancouver needed only 4:58 to get on the board, as Alex Burrows tallied his ninth goal of the season. Henrik Sedin won a faceoff in the Isles' zone and sent the puck back to Daniel Sedin, who wristed one towards the net that Burrows was able to redirect past Poulin for the 1-0 lead.
Despite being outshot 20-9, the Isles managed to escape the first period trailing by just the one goal thanks to the work of their young goaltender.
"He's played unbelievable for us," said Isles forward Blake Comeau, who scored in the third period. "From what I've heard, in Bridgeport he's been outstanding there all year, too. Poulin definitely gave us a chance to win tonight."
New York tied the game at 15:13 of the second. One second after Jeff Tambellini's hooking penalty expired, Hillen took a pass from Comeau and fired a slap shot from just inside the left point past Luongo to make it 1-1. It was Hillen's first goal in 27 games this season.
But Vancouver regained its one-goal lead with just 15.4 seconds remaining in the second period on Kesler's 24th goal of the season. Kesler, who had a hat trick against Edmonton last Friday, took a pass from Mikael Samuelsson and released a gorgeous wrist shot from the slot that beat Poulin to the far side to make it 2-1.
"I thought Kesler played a strong game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "That was a really hard-fought game tonight. When you have the two best teams in the NHL over the last 10 games meeting one another … we knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. We thought it was going to be a real hard-fought game, and it was. They made us earn every inch out there."
Tavares tied the game for the Isles via the power play 3:14 into the third period. Just 17 seconds after Kevin Bieksa went off for high sticking, Tavares one-timed Schremp's feed from the right circle past Luongo to make it 2-2. It was the second-year center's 15th goal of the season.
Comeau briefly gave the Islanders the lead when he beat Luongo with a laser from inside the right circle at 14:24. The lead lasted all of 34 seconds, as a soft wrister by Bieksa found its way through traffic and went past Poulin to quickly send the euphoric crowd into a state of disbelief.
"They definitely outplayed us in the first, but I thought we did a good job of answering," Comeau said. "I think we got away a little bit from what we were trying to do in the first. We had a few turnovers, and obviously they're a good enough team that's going to capitalize on it."
Despite the loss, there's no doubt Poulin is capitalizing on the opportunity that the Islanders have presented him.
"I'm very excited … I just enjoy every day," said Poulin, who could remain with the big club once Rick DiPietro is ready to return from a groin injury -- which could be as early as Thursday night against Ottawa. "Every day that I'm here, I'm going to enjoy it."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
|Alexandre Burrows (9) ASST: Daniel Sedin (30), Henrik Sedin (46)|
1 - 0 VAN
|Jack Hillen (1) ASST: Blake Comeau (15), Milan Jurcina (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Ryan Kesler (24) ASST: Mikael Samuelsson (17), Raffi Torres (9)|
2 - 1 VAN
|PPG - John Tavares (15) ASST: Rob Schremp (9), Andrew MacDonald (12)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Blake Comeau (11) ASST: Dylan Reese (1), Rob Schremp (10)|
3 - 2 NYI
|Kevin Bieksa (6) ASST: NONE|
3 - 3 Tie
|1||R. Schremp||M. Raymond|
|2||P. Parenteau||J. Tambellini|
|3||J. Tavares||R. Kesler|
|Power Play %||19.3%||18.7%|
|% on Road||17.3%||17.0%|
|% at Home||21.1%||20.3%|
|Jeremy Colliton Holding against Henrik Sedin|
|Jeremy Colliton Hooking against Alexandre Bolduc|
|Tanner Glass Fighting (maj) against Matt Martin|
|Matt Martin Fighting (maj) against Tanner Glass|
|Jeff Tambellini Hooking against John Tavares|
|Kevin Bieksa Hi-sticking against Zenon Konopka|