UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Islanders figured out the perfect
strategy to beat the Atlanta Thrashers: Don't grab a two-goal lead until late
in the game.
Trent Hunter snapped a scoreless tie with 8:45 left to propel the Islanders
to a 4-0 victory Saturday night over the Thrashers.
Atlanta has earned points in eight games this season in which the Thrashers
trailed by two goals.
"We had some chances early and didn't take advantage of them," Atlanta
goalie Pasi Nurminen said. "They had some chances late, and scored. That's why
they won the game."
Garth Snow stopped 18 shots for his first shutout of the season, and Shawn
Bates, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca also scored for the Islanders, 3-0-0-1
following a seven-game losing streak.
The surprising Thrashers, who lead the Southeast Division, had their
four-game winning streak snapped.
"We battled hard and we battled well," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "I
felt we deserved a better fate than this."
The Islanders' recent slide, when they lost 10 of 12 games, started with a
home loss to Atlanta on Nov. 8. New York blew a two-goal lead in that one.
Hunter took a pass from Jason Blake on the left side, moved in on Pasi
Nurminen, and scored when the goalie missed on a poke check.
"I just tried to keep it on the ice, since a defenseman was draped all over
me," Hunter said.
Bates added his seventh goal at 14:00 on a close-in wrist shot. It was
Snow's 16th career shutout.
Hartley and the rest of the Thrashers believed icing or offsides should've
"We don't think -- there IS icing," Hartley said. "The linesman said a
defenseman was nearby. I looked at the tape 10 times, I still don't see a
Yashin scored with a wrist shot at 17:14, and Peca added his first goal
since Nov. 6 when he shot into an empty net with 54.3 seconds left. It was
Peca's third of the season and first in 16 games.
Nurminen stopped 25 shots.
Hunter has 11 goals, tying him for the lead among NHL rookies with
Vancouver's Jason King.
The best save of the night came in the first period, when Atlanta's Bill
Lindsay came out of the penalty box, and was fed for a breakaway. He had Snow
beaten to the left side, but Snow -- on his belly -- threw his right leg back
against the post to make the save.
"We did a lot of breakaways in practice (Friday), so I was kind of used to
it," Snow said. "I won't get many points for style, but the bottom line was
the puck was kept out of the net."
Each team hit a goal post in the second period. Atlanta's chance came in the
first minute, and Yashin was denied with just over three minutes left.
In their last four games, New York has a win against a lower level team
(Chicago), a win after trailing by two goals (Tampa Bay) and lost 1-0 in
overtime to the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.
Defenseman Janne Niinimaa said that if this game happened during the losing
streak, New York might've lost again.
"Probably a week ago, we would have gotten frustrated and made a stupid
mistake where we would have given up the first goal," Niinimaa said. "But
with the win over Tampa Bay and the way we played the Devils for 60 minutes, it
certainly helped our confidence and patience."