The New York Islanders won an exciting and well-played game against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. The win wasn’t sealed until Todd Bertuzzi’s shootout attempt sailed over the Islanders net. Frans Nielsen was the only player to score in the shootout.
This game had it all. Some hard hits, solid goaltending, great scoring chances and impressive goals. The Islanders played one of their best third periods of the year and didn’t get discouraged when the Red Wings scored with just 42.5 seconds left to force overtime. The Isles have several quality scoring chances during the five minute extra session and managed to win the game in the shootout.
“I thought they played inspired, with a lot of passion and determination in their game tonight,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We battled back against a good hockey team. We utilized our six defense, four lines and both goaltenders.”
The fireworks started early at the Nassau Coliseum. John Tavares redirected a shot by Josh Bailey that found its way past Jonas Gustavsson. The goal have the Islanders a 1-0 lead just 4:03 into the game while the assist ended a 10-game point drought for Bailey.
The Red Wings needed only nine seconds to tie the game as the Isles had a rare defensive breakdown right off the ensuing faceoff. The Isles failed to pick up their men and Detroit had an odd-man rush that Darren Helm finished to tie the game 1-1.
Isles’ starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov suffered a groin injury on the play and did not return to the game. He was replaced by Poulin who appeared in his fourth straight game. Coach Jack Capuano indicated that Nabokov would be evaluated Monday but added that he expects the Isles to be without their veteran goalie for “some time.”
“You never want to see somebody get hurt,” Isles’ forward Casey Cizikas said. “Especially Nabby, he’s been our heart and soul at times. When he went down, my heart stopped. “Poulin did a great job of coming into the game and holding his own for the entire game.”
The Red Wings went ahead 2-1 on a power play goal by Pavel Datsyuk with 2:42 left in the opening period. Datsyuk deflected a shot from the point by Mikael Sameulsson.
The pace slowed for most of the second period but the Islanders fourth line scored for the second straight game and for the second straight game, Casey Cizikas was the goal scorer. Cizikas put home the second rebound of a shot Gustavsson couldn’t corral and the game was tied at 18:23 of the second period.
Detroit quickly regained the lead as Johan Franzen beat Poulin with a wrist shot. “The Mule” cut across to the middle of the ice between the circles to gain enough room to let his wrister go. Detroit led 3-2 with just 1:37 left in the middle stanza.
The Isles answered quickly, however. Luke Glendening took a tripping penalty at 18:50 and the Islanders cashed in on the power play. Brock Nelson, who had a strong game for the Isles, poked home the rebound of a shot Tavares and the game was tied with 50 seconds left before intermission.
The Islanders had struggled in the third period this season and entering this game, they had been outscored in the final period 20-11. But the Isles played a very strong third period, holding Detroit to just four shots on goal, three of which came in the final five minutes of regulation time.
“Our forwards did a great job, they worked the offensive zone really well,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “I thought they were really good on the forecheck and forced their defensemen to cut back and forced turnovers…We [the defensemen] battled hard.”
Pierre-Marc Bouchard gave the Islanders a 4-3 lead when he beat Gustavsson by deflecting a shot by Ness from the point at 4:43 of the final period.
The lead held until Datsyuk tied the score with 42.5 seconds remaining. Datsyuk centered the puck from the goal line and it deflected into the Islanders’ net off of MacDonald who was there to clear the crease.
The Isles outshot Detroit 6-1 in overtime. They had a power play and several other good chances, but Gustavsson kept them off the board and the game went to a shootout.
Nielsen used his patented backhand move to score in the first round. Poulin kept his cool and stopped Henrik Zetterberg and Datsyuk before Bertuzzi shot the puck over the net on Detroit’s final chance.
This has the potential to be a turning point for the Islanders. They bounced back from a poor third period against the Kings Thursday night and defeated a contending team in a tough, back and forth game. Playoff teams continue to play well over time and not for just one game. That will be the Islanders challenge as they move forward with their upcoming three-game road trip.
The Islanders return to action Tuesday night when they travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs.
Attendance was 15,619.
The Red Wings lost their sixth straight game.
The Islanders celebrated Military Appreciation Night at the Coliseum. They wore camouflage uniforms in warm-ups that were auctioned off for charity.