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Tavares scoreless in debut as Islanders fall to Oilers

by John Kreiser
John Tavares didn't light up the scoreboard in his first professional game. Then again, neither did the rest of the New York Islanders.

The No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft last June didn't have a goal or an assist and went more than 47 minutes before getting his only shot on goal in his pro debut as the Edmonton Oilers scored three times in the third period to beat the visiting Isles 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray swatted home a loose puck with 2:15 left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie as Edmonton improved to 2-0-0 in preseason games. The Islanders are 0-2-0.

Tavares, who sat out the Isles' exhibition opener against Vancouver on Monday after battling the flu, was generally not a factor -- though he was on the ice for defenseman Bruno Gervais' goal 6:39 into the game that gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead. His first shot on goal came 7:01 into the third period, when his backhander was stopped by goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.

"I realize I have to get stronger and use my body in certain positions to be able to capitalize on turnovers and mistakes," the soon-to-be 19-year-old said. "I've got to try to think the game and understand the game the best I can."

The one thing Tavares did well was win faceoffs -- he beat Sam Gagner on the game-opening draw and was 10-6 for the game.

Islanders coach Scott Gordon said the team is trying not to put too much pressure on Tavares.

"If he scores 50 goals and adds 50 assists this year, that would be a great start for him," Gordon joked. "Quite honestly, just like the rest of our younger players, we want him to grow and develop through the course of the year. The first half for him is probably going to be about getting acclimated to the pro game and getting familiar with our system."

The Oilers scored twice within a 2:20 span of the third period to take a 2-1 lead. Dustin Penner tied it at the eight-minute mark, breaking down the left side and into the slot before beating Nathan Lawson with a high wrister from the slot. Gagner put the Oilers ahead to stay at 10:20 when he circled the net, came out to Lawson's left and dribbled a backhander through the netminder's pads.

Defenseman Calvin de Haan, the Isles' other first-round pick, tied the game with 4:58 remaining when he snapped a shot past Drouin-Deslauriers after a faceoff win.

For the game, Tavares finished with one shot on goal, one attempt that missed the net and two that were blocked. After playing just 4:02 in the opening period -- when the Islanders gave Edmonton four power plays -- he was credited with 22:50 of ice time, one shot, two misses, one that was blocked, two giveaways, one takeaway and one blocked shot.

"Early on I felt pretty good and though I did some good things out there," Tavares said. "But as the game went on I felt what you need to be in proper game shape for this level, for sure.

"There were some positives, but still a lot of things to work on too. I was glad to get this one out of the way and under my belt. I'm looking forward to the next one."

Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 2

The remodeled Leafs showed the kind of truculence GM Brian Burke likes -- but former Leaf Andy Wozniewski ruined the preseason opener for the crowd of 16,872 at the Air Canada Centre by scoring the tie-breaking goal early in the third period.

Wozniewski gave the Bruins their second victory in as many nights by beating Joey McDonald 7:02 into the third period, snapping a 2-2 tie.

Burke wanted a team that's physically tough to play against, and the five scraps during the game would indicate that the Leafs will be feisty.

Tyler Bozak, a college star signed as a free agent last spring, gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with a highlight-reel shorthanded goal 13:38 into the game, turning defenseman Matt Hunwick inside-out before beating Dany Sabourin.

"I'm just trying to take it the best that I can,” said Bozak, a college star at the University of Denver who's trying to make the Leafs. "Definitely, I'm shocked and really excited. I'm just trying to keep it composed and not get too antsy."

But Boston, which scored both of its goals in Tuesday's 2-1 win at New York on the power play, connected twice with the man advantage in the second period. Steve Begin beat Vesa Toskala from the side of the net at 3:18 while Brad Marchand roofed a shot over MacDonald -- who relieved Toskala midway through the game -- at 13:16.

Viktor Stalberg, another young player trying to make the Leafs, tied the game at 16:03, taking a pass from first-round pick Nazem Kadri, stepping out from behind the goal-line and sliding the puck under Sabourin.

Jason Allison, who has played just one season over the last six years, didn't make much of an impact for Toronto. He's on a pro tryout and hopes to earn a contract.

Devils 3, Rangers 2 (SO)

Travis Zajac's goal in the sixth round of the shootout gave the Devils a victory in their preseason opener -- a game they probably thought they should have won in regulation for new coach Jacques Lemaire.

David Clarkson scored power-play goals in the first and second periods to give New Jersey a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. But rookie defenseman Matt Gilroy got the Ranger on the board with a spectacular individual effort, stepping around the defense and beating Yann Danis with a backhander at 3:03 of the third. Another hopeful, Jordan Owens, pulled the Rangers even at 11:46.

Gilroy and Zach Parise scored in the third round of the shootout, and Zajac won it by a high shot past rookie netminder Chad Johnson.

Lemaire returned to the Devils after coaching the Minnesota Wild from 2000 through last season. He was New Jersey's coach from 1993-98, leading the Devils to their first Stanley Cup title in 1995, but hadn't coached the team since 1998.

"Every aspect of it, at times, was good," said Lemaire, whose team has a week off before visiting the Islanders next Wednesday. "It seemed that if we stopped skating, then we got in trouble."

It was the second loss in as many nights for the Rangers, who again didn't dress sore-groined Marian Gaborik, their big free-agent signing this summer.

"I was not unhappy in how hard they played," Rangers coach John Tortorella said of his team. "They came back. I thought some guys contributed that we're looking at. I hate losing, but we'll start again tomorrow."

Red Wings 3, Flyers 1

Detroit got goals from Kris Draper, Jamie Tardif and Jeremy Williams to beat visiting Philadelphia in the preseason opener for both teams.

After rookie James van Riemsdyk put the Flyers ahead 3:26 into the second period, Draper and Tardif scored in the second period and Williams connected in the third. The Wings outshot Philadelphia 36-21.

The fourth line of Draper, Justin Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves was the Wings' best unit.

"We're trying to pay attention to detail in our own end, and we can generate a lot of speed through the neutral zone," said Draper, who had just 17 points in 79 games last season and is being moved to wing after spending his career at center. "We tried to get pucks deep and get chances off that."

Jimmy Howard stopped six of seven shots for the Wings, while Daniel Larsson, who will play his second season in Grand Rapids, made some big stops immediately after replacing Howard at 10:09 of the second period and finished with 12 saves.

Flyers goalie Ray Emery had a strong game, stopping 23 of 25 shots in two periods. Emery spent last season playing in Russia.

Flyers coach John Stevens wasn't happy about giving the Wings seven power plays -- although Detroit failed to cash in on any of them -- but he was pleased with van Riemsdyk, the No. 2 pick in the 2007 Entry Draft who signed with Philadelphia after two years at the University of New Hampshire.

"It's good for him that he had some success and got that first game under his belt," Stevens said.

Panthers 2, Senators 1

Jordan Leopold and Dmitri Kulikov scored power-play goals as Florida completed a two-game sweep of the Senators with a victory in Ottawa.

Leopold, the Panthers' return from Calgary in the Jay Bouwmeester trade, opened the scoring 7:26 into his Florida debut when he put Michael Frolik's rebound past Brian Elliott.

"It feels good for the back end," Leopold said. "Any way we can score goals and be able to contribute, it's big. I think everybody did a good job. Well done, all the way around."

After Ottawa's Chris Phillips tied it early in the second period, Kulikov, Florida's top pick in this year's Entry Draft, put Florida ahead to stay at 13:48 when he scored on Florida's first shot against Mike Brodeur, who had replaced Elliott moments earlier.

Newcomers Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Cheechoo made their Ottawa debuts, and both played a role in Phillips' tying goal. Kovalev, who signed a two-year deal with the Senators on July 6, began the scoring play with a pass to Mike Fisher. Cheechoo drew an assist when he got a touch on Fisher's centering feed as Phillips put the puck past Tomas Vokoun to tie it at 1-1.

"Kovalev made some really nice plays," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "You can tell he's going to be valuable, especially on the power play, he draws a lot of attention. Jonathan had a couple of looks in the slot there on the power play, but he didn't get a lot of chances because we couldn't really establish our cycling game."

Stars 4, Lightning 3 (SO)

Brad Richards had a goal in regulation and scored in the third round of the shootout as Dallas beat Tampa Bay in the preseason opener for both teams.

Neither team was successful in the first two rounds before Richards, who played for the Lightning from 2000-08, beat rookie goaltender Jaroslav Janus. Stars rookie goalie Tyler Beskorowany -- who also signed an entry-level contract on Wednesday -- stopped Martins Karsums in the third round to seal the win.

It was a good debut for Marc Crawford, who was making his debut behind the bench for the Stars.

“I was real pleased tonight,” said Crawford, who was coaching his first game since the end of the 2007-08 season with Los Angeles. “While we made some mistakes, our energy was there and guys were real attentive to what we were trying to do.”

Blair Jones' rebound goal put Tampa Bay in front 3-2 at 5:55 of the third period, but Dallas tied it when James Neal scored with 3:14 left in regulation off a setup from Richards.

Loui Eriksson and Richards had first-period power-play goals for Dallas. Todd Fedoruk and Brett McClain scored in the second period for the Lightning.

Ducks 3, Coyotes 2 (SO)

Joffrey Lupul and Bobby Ryan scored in the shootout give the Ducks a win over the visiting Coyotes in their preseason opener.

Lupul went top shelf on Jason LaBarbera and Ryan beat him with a deke and a wrist shot. Rookie Timo Pielmeier stopped Kevin Porter and Kyle Turris.

Ryan had both goals for the Ducks, who were outshot 47-30.

"You're playing the game to win, whether it's preseason or not," Lupul said. "It's nice to win it and to be the guy that scores [in the shootout] was pretty neat. It's preseason right now. Everything we're doing is to get ready for October 3. There are a lot of improvements that have to be made in individual's games and our team game."

Lauri Korpikoski's power-play deflection with 21 seconds remaining in the first period put the Coyotes ahead. Ryan tied it 3:09 into the second and slid an off-speed shot behind LaBarbera 1:08 into the third to put Anaheim ahead for the first time.

Chad Kolarik stole the puck from Sheldon Brookbank and scored on his own rebound with 7:30 left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

Coyotes associate coach Ulf Samuelsson again ran the team in place of Wayne Gretzky.

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

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