John Tavares scored the deciding goal in the shootout as the New York Islanders
downed the Nashville Predators 4-3 to end their seven-game losing
streak. Mark Streit scored the game-tying power play goal with just 11.4 seconds
remaining in regulation to force overtime. Martin Biron made 24 saves to earn his first victory since November 13.
“It felt good. It’s been a while,” said Biron, who has been the odd man out of the Isles’ goalie rotation since Rick DiPietro returned to action. “It was one of those
games where I was trying to get myself in a rhythm. The guys definitely
came through with some key plays at a key point of the game…The way things have been going lately, you realize that this was big.”
The Islander power play came up big in this game, scoring twice in six chances including Streit’s game-tying tally. The Isles hadn’t scored with the man-advantage for five games entering tonight’s contest. Martin Erat was called for boarding with just 46 seconds remaining in regulation. With Biron on the bench for a sixth attacker, the Isles had two extra skaters on the ice when Streit let a slap shot go from the right point that beat Preds’ goalie Pekka Rinne to tie the score.
“We shouldn’t have taken that [penalty],” explained Nashville captain Jason Arnott. “It
wasn’t like a tripping penalty going to the net. It was just one of those things
that you’ve got to just think about and not do it.”
Isles’ forward Matt Martin picked up his second assist of the game on the tying goal. Martin was playing in his first career NHL game.
“It felt great,” Martin said. “The second goal
was kind of a blur. I saw Streit open there and he made a great shot.”
Martin was called up from Bridgeport along with Jesse Joensuu, to add some size to the New York lineup. Isles’ Coach Scott Gordon saw Martin play at Bridgeport two weeks ago and liked what he saw.
“I went to watch Bridgeport play,” Gordon said. “The first thing that caught my eye about Matt Martin…was his willingness to stand in front of the net on the power play.”
The Predators dominated a scoreless first period, outshooting the Islanders 9-3.
New York got on the board first on Freddy Meyer’s second goal of the season. The play was set up by center Rob Schremp, who finished the game with two assists. He found Meyer breaking down the middle and hit him with an accurate pass that Meyer deposited past Rinne to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.
The Preds evened the score midway through the second stanza on an unassisted goal by Cal O’Reilly who stole a clearing attempt by Frans Nielsen and beat Biron for his first goal of the season.
Joel Ward’s tally slightly more than three minutes later gave the Preds their first lead of the game. The Islanders were caught on a bad change when Jerred Smithson found Ward alone on a breakaway. Ward scored his 12th goal of the season and tallied for the third consecutive game.
The Islanders took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play in the final minute of the second period on a goal by defenseman Bruno Gervais who deposited the rebound of a Martin shot behind Rinne.
Nashville regained the lead on a power play goal by Steve Sullivan at the 4:12 mark of the third period. Erat set up Sullivan for a one-timer with a pretty cross ice pass. The 3-2 lead held until Streit’s tying goal in the final minute.
Nielsen was the only goal scorer among the first three Islanders in the shootout while Erat kept the Preds in the game by beating Biron with a quick release. Tavares beat Rinne on a wrist shot in the fourth round before Biron stopped Patric Hornqvist to clinch the win for the Isles.
“In the shootout, sometimes you get antsy and do some things that you
shouldn’t have done,” Biron said. “JT [Tavares] scored a big goal after that, and
definitely the second time I wasn’t going to try anything crazy out
Dwayne Roloson, Jeff Tambellini and Doug Weight were the sratches for the Islanders. Rick DiPietro dressed as the backup goalie for the Islanders.
It was the Islanders’ first win over the Predators since October 15, 2002.
Sullivan has been an Isles’ killer. He now has 8 goals and 19 points in 16 career games against the Islanders.