Richard Park scored at the 3:43 mark of overtime to give the New York Islanders a 3-2 victory over the visiting Washington Capitals Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Park’s tally gave the Isles a win in a game in which they never trailed and out-shot Washington 31-16.
The Isles opened the scoring at the 10:03 mark of the second period on a goal by Miro Satan. Satan took a pretty backhand pass from Josef Vasicek and then beat Jeff Schultz to the puck which he poked past a sprawling Olaf Kolzig who had tried unsuccessfully to make a poke check on the play. The goal extended Satan’s point scoring streak to six games.
The Capitals tied the score with 2:08 remaining in the second period on a goal by Alexander Semin. Semin made a turnaround shot off a scramble and fired the puck just beneath the crossbar to even the game at 1-1.
Bill Guerin scored what appeared to be the winning goal with just 2:06 left in the third period on a backhand rebound from the left circle off a shot by Chris Campoli but the Capitals pulled even when Alexander Ovechkin tallied through a screen with 55 seconds left and Kolzig off for an extra attacker.
On the winning goal, Park took a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle after a give and go with Radek Martinek. The Capitals were unofficially short one player because defenseman Mike Green was writhing in pain behind the goal after being struck by an errant stick on the play.
“It was (Jeff) Schultz’s stick,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game. “Green was clipped in the ear, and he went down in the spot he’d normally be in. That’s why Park was wide open.”
Park did not even notice the Green was out of the play.
“I saw Marty (Martinek) open and he made a great play giving it back to me,” Park said. “I took one look and no one was there so I thought I’d take a shot on net and luckily it found a hole.”
Park has recently seen his ice time increase since he was put on a line with Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin instead of his customary spot on the fourth line. The 31-year-old forward has also seen time on the power play in recent games as well as the penalty kill. His play has helped spark the Islanders during their last two wins over the Penguins and Caps.
“I think Richard’s been our most underrated player for the last couple of years,” Coach Ted Nolan said. “He does everything. He kills penalties, he’s on the power play, he’s a last minute guy, he goes on for big faceoffs.”
Captain Bill Guerin also praised Park. “Park’s just kind of like a jack of all trades, a very versatile player. He can do a little bit of everything. He’s a very solid player, he does everything well and that’s good to have on any line.”
Another key for the Islanders was a return to a more responsible style of play in their own end which Nolan believes is the key to winning games for this team. The Islanders held Washington to just 16 shots on goal including just four in the second and zero in the overtime.
“In the beginning of the season, we were more successful when we were playing a smart, controlled game and limiting our mistakes,” explained goalie Rick DiPietro. “We did that again tonight and again we had a good result.”
”We knew going into the season we didn’t have the fire power to blow anybody out 6-1 or 5-3,” said Nolan. “With our goaltending, we know we can be in a lot of games…We have to make sure we’re aware (defensively) and get those one or two goals and let our goaltender do his thing. We were really doing it in the beginning of the season and then we got away from it. Because everybody questioned our goal scoring, everyone was cheating and trying to score some more and then we weren’t scoring more, we were letting up more (goals). We got back to the way we have to play the last couple of games. It works for us.”
The back-to-back wins also gave the team some confidence as they headed home for the Christmas holiday.
“Any break in the schedule, you want to end on a good note and we did that,” Guerin noted. “We need points desperately. We’re still in the thick of things here with everything being so tight and four points in the last two nights, that definitely helps us.”
The four point weekend moves the Islanders into a three-way tie with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for third place in the Atlantic Division.
NOTES: The win ties DiPietro with Kelly Hrudey for third-place in franchise history with 106… The Islanders are now 6-2-0 in the second of back-to-back games this season… Prior to the game, the Islanders honored VP of Communications, Chris Botta for 20 years of service to the team… Ted Nolan had a very special night as his son, Brandon, made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes. The younger Nolan picked up an assist and was a plus-one in a 4-1 win for the ‘Canes. “I was real proud of him, just like how any father would be,” Ted Nolan remarked after the game. “He’s spent a few years in the minors and earned his chance to play in the NHL, and I’m glad he’s making the most of his opportunity.”… The Isles resume play Wednesday night when the play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Coliseum.