Isles start fast, PK strong in first win
GalleriesIslanders 2, Wild 1 NHL Eastern Conference preview 2011-12 Long Island in the pros: NHL edition
This wasn't the full 60-minute effort Jack Capuano and the Islanders might have wanted to erase the memory of Saturday's no-show loss in their season opener. But they did just enough Monday to grab two points, so it will have to do.
Despite only five shots on goal in the final two periods, the Islanders rode a strong first period and the work of goaltender Al Montoya and their penalty-killing units to a 2-1 win over the Wild at Nassau Coliseum.
"We kept it pretty simple in the first period," said Mark Streit, whose pinpoint shot/pass was redirected in by Frans Nielsen 11:45 into the first period to give the Isles a two-goal edge. "We advanced the puck in straight lines, we got it deep and we went to work . . . We got away from that in the second and third periods. We did what we can't do."
That was more of what they did (and failed to do) in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Panthers: Too many curls through the neutral zone and across the opposing blue line to look for plays rather than get pucks deep, and failures to chip pucks out of danger. That led to five Wild power plays in the last 40 minutes, including a 44-second, two-man advantage late in the second.
That's where Montoya, who made 20 saves, and a few lesser-known Islanders came in on the penalty kill, especially Jay Pandolfo, who took a shot in the shin guards to stop a good chance.
"You have those games where you're in the box a little too much, so you have to try and limit their quality chances," Pandolfo said. "Your best penalty-killer is your goaltender, and Al was awesome there, too."
Montoya got his second straight start after basically being the only consistent player on the ice Saturday. He was even better yesterday, keeping the Wild's dangerous top line of Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi off the board despite Minnesota's seven power plays.
The Islanders' 7-for-7 day on the penalty kill got a quick start as John Tavares and PA Parenteau took penalties early in the first, giving the Wild consecutive power plays. But the Isles didn't allow a shot on either, and Tavares worked to draw a penalty on his next shift.
After Kyle Okposo won a faceoff and Travis Hamonic's shot was turned aside, Andrew MacDonald unleashed a low slap shot with Okposo screening Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom to get the Islanders on the board for the first time this season 9:05 in.
"That was a big boost, to get those kills and turn right around on our PP and score," MacDonald said. "The first 30 minutes of the game, we were doing what we needed to do."
They held the two-goal lead into the third, but Tavares turned over the puck and Matt Cullen chipped a wobbly shot past Montoya to make it 2-1 just 1:13 into the third.
Montoya stopped Heatley in close a few minutes later to deny the best Wild chance.
"We talked after the game a little bit," Streit said. "We were doing good things early on, but then we stopped. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again."