P.A. Parenteau scored the game winner with 1:46 left in regulation time as the New York Islanders completed a 5-3 comeback win over the visiting Washington Capitals Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. The win ended a six-game winless streak for the Islanders. Rick DiPietro made 25 saves to earn his first win of the season and also added an assist on the final goal of the game.
Things did not look good early for the home team. After 20 minutes, they trailed the Capitals 2-0 on goals by Joel Ward and Alexander Ovechkin. But instead of giving in to defeat, the Isles stuck together and scrapped their way back into the game with a strong second period.
“We stuck with it,” Parenteau said of his team’s response to falling behind early. “I give credit to all the guys in this locker room and it was fun…This is a huge boost of confidence for this team.”
Matt Martin also felt his team’s play picked up in the second period. “We did a better job getting pucks on net,” he said. “We got a few more rebounds and a few more bounces went our way and that’s something that hasn’t come easy for us lately. We knew if we stuck to it and threw pucks on net, sooner or later they’d have to go in.”
Prior to the game, Isles Coach Jack Capuano changed up all of his line combinations. The most productive of the new lines on this night was Frans Nielsen centering for Parenteau and Brian Rolston. That unit got the Isles on the board just 1:41 into the second period when Nielsen put home a rebound from just outside the crease on his backhand.
The Isles built momentum off of that and outshot the Capitals 15-7 in the second period. Rolston finally got the equalizer at the 16:55 mark on a hard, low blast from just inside the blue line that fooled Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun.
Martin gave the Islanders their first lead of the game on a dirty goal from just outside the crease. He outbattled Caps defender Dennis Wideman for a loose rebound of a Steve Staios shot and beat Vokoun just before Wideman tripped him to the ice at 6:28 of the third period. With Staios in the penalty box, the Caps evened the game at the 9:12 mark on a shot from the left circle by Brooks Laich.
That set the stage for Parenteau’s game winner. The play started with a hard shot by defenseman Milan Jurcina from the right point which Vokoun couldn’t handle. Parenteau pounced on the rebound to make the score 4-3 Isles and give his line three goals for the game. Nielsen, Parenteau and Rolston each finished the game with a plus-three rating as did defenseman Mark Eaton.
Parenteau felt his new line has good chemistry. “We have a little bit of everything,” he said. “We have a great shot from Rollie [Rolston] and he has great experience, it’s no secret me and Fransie [Nielsen] like to pass the puck. We had a good connection tonight. Hopefully we can keep going.”
John Tavares clinched the victory and closed out the scoring with an empty net goal with 1:01 left on the clock.
Capuano was happy for his players that the winless streak was finally over. “We went through some tough times, but we believe in one another, in our leadership and I knew we’d get out of this, it was juts a matter of time,” he said. “It was a good win and they feel pretty good in that room right now…It was a credit to the guys and their work ethic and the way that they practiced that they got the two points.”
For Tavares, the way the Islanders won was also important. “We’ve got to grind and we’ve got to dig it out and it was a hell of a job to battle back (from a 2-0 deficit),” he added. He felt the line changes also helped and could give the team a boost as they start their road trip. “It gave us a little bit of a jump and got guys going so, we’ve just got to keep up that work ethic, that will to be first to the puck, to battle and to do the right things.”
The Islanders return to action Monday night when they travel to Boston to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins. The Capitals next game will be Tuesday night when they host the Dallas Stars.
The Islanders celebrated “Military Appreciation Night” by wearing camouflage uniforms during the pre-game skate.
Mike Mottau was a healthy scratch for the Islanders while the Caps sat DJ King, Cody Eakin and Mike Green.
A leaky Nassau Coliseum roof caused some fans sitting in sections 305 and 306 to be relocated during the first intermission.
Wideman finished the game with a minus-four plus/minus for the Capitals while center Mathieu Perreault was a minus-three.