By Steve Mears, Islanders radio play-by-play announcer
Part I: Games 6 - 10
After an Islanders season that had so many great games and storylines, I've been given the tough task of selecting my "Top Ten Games" of the 2006-2007 Islanders Season. Although I know that I've left out a lot and the order is debatable, I think we can all agree that these are some Islanders moments that everyone will remember. Here are #10-#6:
#10 -- November 18: Islanders 4 Florida 1
For a lengthy mid-November road trip which went from Texas to Florida to Ontario, the Islanders' players were allowed to bring their dads and mentors along for the ride. On this night in Sunrise, Florida, Mike Dunham put together one of the best goaltending performances of the season for a 4-1 win.
After he was announced as the game's No. 1 star, the FSN cameras caught Mike and his dad embracing, one of the most memorable moments of the season. Dunham made 43 saves in the game, including two amazing stops on Olli Jokinen and Ville Peltonen late in the second period. Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake teamed up for two goals and Arron Asham scored the game-winner, his first goal of the season. It was a memorable win for the Dunham family and an amazing road trip for everyone involved.
#9 - March 5: Rangers 2 Islanders 1
Despite the fact that this was a 2-1 Islanders shootout loss, it makes the list because it featured one of the greatest goaltending displays in team history. In a nationally televised game, Rick DiPietro made a career-high and franchise record 56 saves, including 19 in the second and third periods.
During regulation and overtime, the Islanders netminder would face 57 shots (including seven from Jaromir Jagr) and allow just one goal. His 56 saves passed Billy Smith and Felix Potvin, who shared the Islanders single-game record of 55. In a column in the next day"s New York Post, Jay Greenberg called it the finest performance by a goaltender he had witnessed in more than 30 years of writing about hockey.
#8 - December 26: Islanders 2 Rangers 0
After two Islanders wins over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, hockey's best rivalry finally came to a sold-out Nassau Coliseum on the day after Christmas. With 28 saves from Rick DiPietro, the Islanders notched another win over the Blueshirts, 2-0. It was Rick's third straight home shutout and tenth of his career overall.
One of the loudest roars of the season came late in the third period when Arron Asham broke the 0-0 deadlock by skating over the blue line and blasting a slap shot past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Jason Blake scored early in the third period and DiPietro took care of the rest with 14 third period saves for another great chapter in Islander/Ranger history.
#7 - November 25: Islanders 4 Washington 1
On this night the Islanders honored dynasty member Bob Bourne with his induction into the Islanders Hall of Fame. A tremendous pre-game ceremony featured a video tribute, appearances by Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Bill Torrey, and other special guests. After the Islanders unveiled their new Hall of Fame banner with Bourne's name added to the list, the '06-'07 Isles defeated Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals 4-1.
In one of the prettiest plays of the year, Jason Blake scored a Bourne-like goal by flying down the left wing, beating the Caps defense to the outside and scoring before sliding into the corner. The night was a perfect ending to a perfect homestand, which saw the Islanders win three straight.
#6 - February 13: Islanders 3 Toronto 2
Here is yet another great DiPietro performance and one where he simply stole two points for the Isles against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In front of a packed Air Canada Centre, the game was tied at 2-2 and was fairly evenly played through the first 40 minutes. But the Maple Leafs took over in the third period with 16 shots on goal, all of which were stopped by DiPietro. In an amazing sequence, he stopped Bates Battaglia on a breakaway and then minutes later made the most spectacular save of the year on Tomas Kaberle, who grabbed a rebound and shot toward a wide open net.
In the shootout, unlikely hero Frans Nielsen made headlines in Denmark with a shootout goal and an exhausted DiPietro stopped Nik Antropov to seal a 3-2 win. By itself, it was an outstanding goaltending display. But now consider where the Islanders and Maple Leafs finished in the standings at the end of the year.