The New York Islanders scored three goals in a span of 1:39 late in the first period then held on to defeat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday night.
P.A. Parenteau, Blake Comeau and Matt Moulson scored for the Islanders while goalie Rick DiPietro made 30 saves to give the Isles just their second win in their last 22 games.
The three rapid goals started with a power play tally by Parenteau at the 15:06 mark. With ex-Islander Andy Sutton in the penalty box for roughing, John Tavares sent a strong pass to Parenteau at the left circle and he easily put the puck in the net.
The second goal came just 28 seconds later when Jon Sim did some good battling behind the net to gain possession of the puck, passed to Rob Schremp who then found Comeau open in the slot for the goal.
Then it was Moulson’s turn, when he converted a Ducks turnover into an unassisted backhand tally just 1:11 after Comeau’s score. The Islanders led 3-0.
Moulson, who leads the team with 11 goals, is pleased with the way his line, with Tavares, Parenteau and himself have been playing lately.
“We are all developing great chemistry with each other,” Moulson said. “We seem to know each other a lot and P.A. and Johnny made some wonderful passes out there so it’s easy for a guy like myself.”
The three-goal lead meant a lot to the Islanders. “It’s definitely a different game when you can play with a lead, especially when you’re a team who is struggling for confidence,” DiPietro explained.
Anaheim Coach Randy Carlyle had seen enough and he replaced starting goalie Curtis McElhinney with Jonas Hiller. Hiller stopped all 17 shots he would face the rest of the game.
The Ducks started to take control of the flow of the game in the second period and finally converted on the power play midway through the game. Saku Koivu found Joffrey Lupul all alone for a tap in just outside the crease. The lead was cut to 3-1.
Ex-Islander Jason Blake closed the gap to 3-2 when he beat DiPietro on a backhander from the slot just 1:30 into the third period. The Islanders did not play a very strong third period, giving away too many turnovers and quality chances, but the Ducks, who had played the night before in Washington, were unable to take advantage.
“Sometimes we were kind of holding on for dear life but again our defense stepped up,” DiPietro added. “We had a lot of blocked shots and a couple of good plays in front of the net. It was a big win.”
Andrew MacDonald was the Isles most consistent defenseman, leading the club with 25:53 of ice time and eight blocked shots. Although he did not record a point, his strong play earned him the game’s second star. Partner Travis Hamonic also played well and was tied for the team lead with four hits.
“MacDonald and Hamonic both played a lot of minutes,” Isles Coach Jack Capuano said. “They matched well against their big line the whole night. For two young kids they were up to the challenge, and they played extremely well.”
Overall, Capuano was pleased with the win, but a bit frustrated with his club’s failure to play a strong third period while clinging to a lead. “We played great in the first period and then we had to hang on but we did,” he said.
The Islanders look to build on this win Saturday night when they host the Phoenix Coyotes.
Mark Eaton and Bruno Gervais were the Islanders scratches while Teemu Selanne, Paul Mara and Kyle Cipchura sat out for the Ducks. Selanne participated in the club’s morning skate but was a game-time decision.
The game featured two fights with Trevor Gillies and Sheldon Brookbank dropping the gloves in the first period while Matt Martin battled George Parros in the second.
Center Zenon Konopka had a strong game in the faceoff circle, winning 18 of 24 draws.