NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Steve Sullivan reached the 20-goal mark quicker than any player in the brief history of the Nashville Predators and it couldn't have been more timely.
Sullivan scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season to give the Predators a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
``We needed this game to re-establish our home ice advantage,'' said Nashville coach Barry Trotz. ``In games like this you need someone to step up and Sullivan did. That is what the best players do.''
It is the seventh NHL season that Sullivan has scored at least 20 goals. Sullivan only needed 42 games to reach 20 goals, breaking the old Nashville mark of 51 games set by Andreas Johansson Feb. 13, 2003.
``It's not a goal I set for myself,'' said Sullivan. ``I don't think I have ever hit it this early in a season. ``
Sullivan broke a 1-1 tie on his second goal of the game with 3:17 left in the third period. Scott Walker passed the puck to him behind the net and Sullivan skated around the left side of the goal and backhanded the shot past Islanders goaltender Wade Dubielewicz.
``I lost sight of the puck for half-a-second while he turned to his backhand,'' said Dubielewicz. ``By the time I saw the puck coming I was too low and didn't have time to get up. I just tried to make a desperation play, but it was already past me.''
Sullivan admits he never saw the game-winning goal go into the net.
``It was one of those goals that only special guys can do,'' said Trotz. ``It was looking like it might end up in overtime until Sullivan made that play.''
Dubielewicz stopped 33 shots, prompting Trotz to compare him to Predators back-up Chris Mason.
``New York's goaltender played a real good game,'' said Trotz. ``He is a little bulldog in the net. He battles away.''
Nashville took a 1-0 lead with nine seconds left in the first period. Sullivan fired a one-timer from the far side of the left circle that Dubielewicz to his glove side.
The Islanders scored the tying goal in the second period when Oleg Kvasha spotted Shawn Bates low in the slot on a two-on-one and hit him with a pass from the left circle. Bates shot from just inside the crease catching Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun out of position.
Vokoun made 27 saves.
``I was happy with our effort,'' said Islanders coach Steve Stirling. ``We were still there with three minutes to go and we were playing hard. We're struggling losing games like we are.''
Earlier in the day, the Islanders traded defenseman Janne Niinimaa and a fifth-round pick in next year's draft to the Dallas Stars for defenseman John Erskine and a second-round choice in the draft this year.
``When the team is in a slide like we are I know it's tough for any management to just stand by idle and not do anything,'' said the Islanders Mark Parrish.
``Unfortunately, Janne was sacrificed this time, but we keep on losing games. I'm thinking there is probably going to be more than just him. We need to figure out if we want to stick together as a team and find a way to win games. We have to do it real quick.''
Trotz expected the Islanders to play better on the road than they have been playing at home.
``They played a real good road game,'' said Trotz. ``At home there are a bunch of rumors and the fans were getting on them. I thought they would play a lot harder and a lot more relaxed here. They played hard and they played smart.''
Notes: Jordin Tootoo was an injury scratch for the Predators due to back spasms as the result of having his vehicle hit from behind on the way home from the morning skate Tuesday. ... Jeremy Stevenson was back on the ice for the Predators for the first time since undergoing knee surgery Dec. 16.