Skip to main content

Quick goals, strong goaltending lift Islanders

by John Kreiser
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders were ready to go from the drop of the puck Monday. The Minnesota Wild weren't -- and they paid the price.

Andrew MacDonald and Frans Nielsen scored 2:40 apart in the first period and the Islanders hung on through the final 40 minutes to beat the Wild 2-1 Monday for their first victory of the season.

The Islanders completely controlled the first period, outscoring the Wild 2-0 and outshooting Minnesota 9-2. New York was outshot 19-5 during the final two periods, but Al Montoya, starting for the second straight game ahead of veterans Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov, stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced and helped the Islanders kill seven Minnesota power plays. Matt Cullen's goal 1:13 into the third period was the only shot to beat him.

"A win's a win." Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after his team rebounded from Saturday's season-opening 2-0 loss to Florida. "It was textbook hockey for one period -- the way you want to play."

Minnesota, which opened with a 4-2 victory at home against Columbus on Saturday, started slowly and suffered the consequences despite dominating the last two periods.

"We didn't start on time," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "One-on-one battles, they were dominating. Loose pucks, they were dominating, winning them every time. When that happens, you don't execute the right way. Our wall play wasn't strong in the first period, and because of that, we spent the whole period in our own zone."

The other big difference was special teams. The Islanders scored on the first of their three power plays, while denying the Wild on all seven opportunities, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 44 seconds late in the second period.

"That's huge," said defenseman Travis Hamonic, one of the three penalty-killers during the Wild's two-man advantage. "You want your penalty kill to be going in every game. Obviously you're not going to stop all power plays, but tonight we had an opportunity and we did that.

"The 5-on-3 and the 4-on-3 (earlier in the second period) -- I thought that was critical. The fans were all up and chanting and we really fed off that energy. I think that was a momentum-changer."

The Wild were without one of their top forwards, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who had his appeal of a two-game suspension for a high-sticking incident Saturday denied prior to the game. Yeo wouldn't use Bouchard's absence as an excuse.

"Regardless of who's in the lineup, who's out of the lineup, we have guys capable of doing it," Yeo said of the power play, which went 2-for-4 in the opening-night victory against Columbus.

After killing back-to-back penalties, the Islanders got their first power play when Mikko Koivu yanked down John Tavares at 8:54, and just 11 seconds later, MacDonald teed up a long rebound for a 55-foot slap shot that beat Niklas Backstrom through a screen for New York's first goal of the season.

Mark Streit, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, showed why he was missed when he made a perfect slap pass onto Nielsen's stick for the Islanders' second goal at 11:45. Parenteau had stolen the puck in the offensive zone and fed Streit at the left point. Streit stepped around a checker and hit Nielsen's stick to double the lead.

"That was a great play," Nielsen said. "He faked the slap shot and put it back towards me. Backstrom took a step out because he expected a shot, and (Streit) faked a shot and passed it to me. That's the kind of smart things that he does that no one else can do."

The Islanders held the Wild without a shot on goal for the last 11:54 of the opening period.

"We knew we had to come out strong," Montoya said. "We kind of let the fans down -- let ourselves down -- last game. We came out with the right attitude this time -- attack, attack, throw bodies at the net, throw pucks at the net. We kind of held them off after that."

Minnesota came out much stronger in the second period, outshooting the Islanders 10-2 and dominating play, but couldn't get anything past Montoya. The Wild finally broke through early in the third after some sloppy play by the Islanders. Guillaume Latendresse beat Steve Staios to the puck in the Isles' zone and passed back to Cullen, whose shot from the lower left circle beat Montoya.

But despite two more power plays, the Wild couldn't find a way to beat Montoya again.

"We weren't ready to battle from the start, the right way," Yeo said of his team's poor first period. "We were a little bit upset with ourselves after the first period, and we started to play the way we needed to play. From that point they were just hanging on, but we couldn't get that next goal. But that's what we need to see for three periods."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.