Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome
looked sheepishly into the multiple rows of cameras gathered around his stall in the locker room, and tried to keep a straight face.
The catcalls coming from teammates all around him didn't make it any easier.
Such is life for the Canucks' unexpected scoring star after a three-point night that included his third goal in just four games this season, already surpassing his career totals from the 131 previous contests at the NHL level.
"The guys give me a hard time, so it's fun," Rome said. "Lots of fun scoring goals, getting points, winning games."
Rome missed the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final after he was suspended for a late hit, and the first month of this season with a broken thumb. But he hasn't wasted any time making up for lost time since his return four games ago. He opened the scoring 1:57 in, set up Cody Hodgson
's power-play goal 2:47 into the third period and added another assist on David Booth
's empty-net goal with 3:01 left, leading the Canucks to a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders
at Rogers Arena on Sunday.
"I've just been getting fortunate," said Rome, who also had an apparent goal called off in Los Angeles on Thursday night. "When you play with confidence you don't really think about what you're doing, you maybe get back to the game that you played when you were younger. I played in offensive situations at all levels, so I knew that I kind of had it in me. But maybe not to this extent."
also scored as Vancouver, coming off a long, up-and-down 3-3-0 road trip, moved back above .500 (9-8-1) on the season. While the Canucks whooped it up around Rome, the Islander were trying to make sense of a third straight loss, and an inability to win on the road that dates back to the end of last season.
Not only did the Islanders only manage one goal -- top-line winger Matt Moulson
's fourth of the season -- but they failed to draw a single penalty, and now have just one win in the last 10 games (1-6-3) after starting the season with three victories in the first four. The top line of Moulson with John Tavares
and Michael Grabner
again provided one of the few bright spots for an Islanders' squad that hasn't won as the visitor since March last season, is 0-7-2 on the road since, and has scored a League-low 29 goals.
Worst of all, said coach Jack Capuano, they aren’t getting enough effort from some players.
"It's tough to explain. We have one line scoring some goals," Capuano said. "I never call out guys, but there are guys that need to find their game. You gotta have some will. You gotta have some compete level. We're turning away from checks, we're not finishing checks when we should, some guys are turning pucks over.
"Our team, let's face it, there is not a lot of room for error, and once again we had a few guys that took a night off and we can't have it," continued Capuano. "They can talk a good game to the media and they can talk a good game amongst themselves, but the bottom line is you gotta perform. This is the National Hockey League."
New York is now 0-4-2 on the road this season, including blowing a 3-0 lead and losing in overtime in Colorado on Thursday, and last in the Eastern Conference.
Capuano wouldn't comment on a report that rookie Nino Niederreiter
is on his way back from a two-week AHL conditioning stint, but sounded like he was looking for options.
"Something has to change," he said. "We can't have guys continue to lose and be comfortable to be in the lineup. You can't go a whole game and not get a power play. That's just a lack of work ethic, and that's a controllable circumstance. … Work ethic and determination are things you can control and some guys better find it."
Rome's work ethic has rarely been questioned as he battled for playing time as a part-time player in Vancouver the last three seasons. But some wondered if he would even play against the Islanders after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for his hit on Anaheim forward Devante Smith-Pelly Friday night.
After talking to NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, Rome was cleared, and he wasted little time restarting his unlikely scoring streak. Rome swatted in a loose puck on his backhand after Booth's wraparound attempt squirted off his stick and into the slot, stranding goalie Evgeni Nabokov
on the post. By the time the game ended, Rome has his first three-point game and was named second star.
"We're all in amazement right now," joked Roberto Luongo
, who made the best of 23 saves off Grabner early in the third to keep it 3-1 en route to his 200th win as a Canuck. "We don't know what's going on with that."