Islanders 3, Oilers 2 (Final/SO)
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A late goal by Chris Pronger pushed the game to overtime, and then a shootout, but goals by Alexei Yashin and Trent Hunter gave the Islanders a win over former captain Mike Peca and his Oilers Saturday night.
Though both teams had a powerplay in overtime, neither squad was able to grab the victory, putting the Islanders into a shootout for a second straight game. Rick DiPietro struck first for the Islanders, using his poke-check to force Fernando Pisani off the puck. Alexei Yashin kept the team rolling, potting the puck through Jussi Markkanen's 5-hole, to make it 1-0. He had previously gone 0-for-4 in the shootout.
Ales Hemsky tied things up with a 5-hole attempt of his own, outwaiting DiPietro. The score remained 1-1, as Jason Blake (1-for-3) fired high and wide to the right on his turn.
Ryan Smyth followed Hemsky's example, trying to stuff the puck between DiPietro's pads, but a quick clamp-down set up Hunter for the win. Bearing down fast on Markkanen, and roofed the puck over his shoulder and just under the crossbar, keeping him a perfect 2-for-2 on the season, and earning his team 7 points in their past four games.
Following his first shift back on Coliseum ice since the trade that sent him to Edmonton, the crowd applauded Peca, and had more reason to cheer when tough guys Eric Godard and Georges Laraque sized each other up two and half minutes into the game. Going blow-for-blow, the two enforcers battled to a draw, going down to the ice with Laraque on top. The Islanders followed up Godard's strong performance with a strong penalty kill, keeping the Oilers off the board.
Halfway through the first period, neither goalie had been tested much, but that changed quickly. Facing down the Oilers' attack, DiPietro came up big with a couple of saves off shots down low, as the ice was seemingly tilted his way. An 8-1 shot deficit kept the Islanders pinned in their own zone, and it became too much, as Pisani gave the visitors the first lead of the game. The Oilers managed to corral several consecutive rebounds off their shots, and with the pressure on, Ethan Moreau found Pisani to the right of DiPietro's net, where he found open net.
Though his team trailed heavily in shots, Kevin Colley got a few of his own in when he scrapped with former Islander Raffi Torres with three minutes left in the period, and were joined by Arron Asham, who was called with whistling, leaving New York with a penalty kill to start the second period.
Right from the start, even-strength play wasn't found in abundance in the second period, as the two teams combined for seven penalties, continuing the trend that began in the first period. In fact, the Islanders started and ended the period down a man, keeping the game a special-teams affair for most of the first 40 minutes.
The play of the period, and possibly the game, came with the Islanders on a powerplay thanks to a slashing call on Peca. A hard shot on net rebounded off Markkanen onto the stick of Blake, who whipped it toward the open side of the net. Somehow, Markkanen got his glove up in time to snag the shot. A visibly frustrated Blake looked to the rafters, along with many of the fans.
Markannen wouldn't be so lucky a moment later, as Asham redirected a puck past the Oilers netminder for his fifth goal of the year. A hard shot along the ice by Brad Lukowich was heading down the slot, but Asham got a stick on it, and sent it off the post and into the goal to Markannen's right, tying the game at 1.
Back on the kill to start the third period, the Islanders got to taste just a few seconds of 5-on-5 freedom before Brent Sopel was sent to the box for high-sticking. The Islanders stopped the Oilers' attack and took control of the game, leading to a dominating shift in the Edmonton end of the ice for Yashin and his linemates. Firing at will, the hosts put Markannen under some heavy pressure, and came close to taking a lead for the first time in the game.
Aggressive play on the Oilers' part cost them mid-way through the third, as Blake's aggrevating style of play got under the defense's skin. Jason Smith levelled Blake along the board in the Oilers' zone, but it didn't stop him. Playing the puck a moment later in the corner, Blake was hit from behind by Steve Staios, who was sent off for boarding. With the man-advantage, Mike York fed Chris Campoli along the blueline, setting up a replay of the first goal. Campoli fired the puck on goal, and Hunter deflected it in for a 2-1 lead.
Though they built a lead while on the powerplay, special teams would come back to haunt the Islanders in the final minutes of regulation. Sopel's stick blade caught Peca in the face, cutting him with 2:35 remaining in the game. Handed a four-minute powerplay, and with their goaltender pulled for a 6-on-4 manpower advantage, Chris Pronger set up shop in the slot and fired home the game-tying goal.
Sopel remained in the box for the second half of his penalty, but the Oilers seemed to lose track of time, forgetting to take a shot as the third period ended, with 56 seconds of powerplay left for overtime. Outmanning the Islanders four to three, a patient Edmonton powerplay couldn't finish off New York. Instead, a steady Islanders assault forced Shawn Horcoff to take a penalty, handing the locals a powerplay of their own, that they couldn't win with either.
OFF THE ICE:
For the Islanders, Shawn Bates (hamstring), Oleg Kvasha (ankle), Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Tomi Pettinen (healthy) were scratched, while the Oilers sat Radek Dvorak (groin)... With the win, the Islanders take a lead in the all-time series, 24-23-24-0... With 19 assists and 22 points, Alexei Zhitnik is on pace for career-highs in both categories... An early goal bodes well for the Islanders, who are 11-5-1 when scoring first this year.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Alexei Yashin on the play of Rick DiPietro:
"When Rick's hot like that, we win games. It helps and make us play more relaxed. He makes saves so we can concentrate on our offense."
On the team's play at home:
"Everybody wants us to come out strong and dominate, but the bottom line is we won the game. We built some character and it is just a matter of us keeping focus and pushing until we get something going."
Trent Hunter on his game winning shoot out goal:
"I was a little nervous but I grabbed the puck and started going in. I made a little fake, pushed the puck and got a better angle."
On the importance of finishing with a win in the extra sessions:
"Coming off our road trip, this was a huge game. It was big for us to get that second point. Ricky kept us in the game and we picked it up in the second and third. We need to learn to keep the throttle down."
Steve Stirling on the Oilers and the importance of the victory:
"Edmonton is a good skating club and you have to match that. When you skate, you get the puck in deep. After the first, we got a forecheck, which led to chances and then a goal. We'll take the two points anyway we can get it."
On the play of Yashin:
"He might be our best shootout guy. He hit three posts and sooner or later you know they will go in. That first goal in the shootout is always so important."
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(28) Wyatt Smith-(37) Mark Parrish
(6) Bruno Gervais-(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(44) Janne Niinimaa-(25) Brad Lukowich
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(94) Ryan Smyth-(10) Shawn Horcoff-(83) Ales Hemsky
(18) Ethan Moreau-(37) Michael Peca-(34) Fernando Pisano
(14) Raffi Torres-(16) Jarret Stoll-(12) Krys Kolanos
(13) Todd Harvey-(19) Marty Reasoner-(27) Georges Laraque
(44) Chris Pronger-(47) Marc-Andre Bergeron
(21) Jason Smith-(24) Steve Staios
(55) Igor Ulanov-(23) Cory Cross
(30) Jussi Markkanen
(1) Mike Morrison