On Wednesday (10/21) night, the Islanders were in danger of tying a franchise record for the worst opening to a season. They hadn't won in their first 6 tries, and the Carolina Hurricanes were coming to town. While disaster nearly befell the Isles in another 3rd period collapse, the New York side recovered in the shootout and recorded their first victory of 2009.
With a disappointing crowd of 9,122 in the seats to see it, the red hot Matt Moulson notched his team leading fifth goal of the season in the first period to get the scoring started. The surprise assist came from the stick of Andy Sutton, who played a very nice game and eventually earned the first star.
Carolina would tie the game in the second period on a Matt Cullen power play score, but scrappy Tim Jackman sent a goal past Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward to recapture the lead. Andy Sutton did the same under a minute later, and it seemed as if the Isles were on their way to a 'W'.
It wouldn't be that easy, though, as Carolina had some rapid fire scoring in them too. With just about 6 minutes remaining, Eric Staal scored to draw the 'Canes within one and Jussi Jokinen tied it 1:02 later.
The home crowd was dismayed, angered, and felt as if they'd seen this horror show before. But on this night the crowd was treated to a happy ending.
Though both teams had good chances to win in the 5 minute overtime, the squads sent the game to a shootout. And wouldn't you know for the first time all season each of the 3 Islanders shooters scored. First Jeff Tambellini, the shootout specialist. Then newly healed Frans Nielsen. And finally, the marquis attraction, young John Tavares. It added up to a 4-3 win for the home team.
After the game Coach Scott Gordon hoped that this would be the start of getting the season turned in the right direction, while the players we spoke with were relieved and nearly elated to have broken the dry spell. The upbeat music was blaring as the players shuffled in and out of the locker room. Goalie Dwanye Roloson even went as far as to compare his first Islanders win to a kid attending his first pro sporting event.
While we're happy for Dwayne, Andy, the coach, and the rest of the team, let's hope they can carry some of this momentum into tomorrow night's game in Montreal. It will be John Tavares' first game in the building where he became an Islander.