Rare goals by Witt help Isles win fourth in a row
Led by defenseman Brendan Witt's pair of goals in the second period, the Islanders extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-1 victory over the Oilers last night at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders hadn't won four in a row since January and February of last season.
"It feels good," coach Scott Gordon said of the tear. "It's something as a group we're not used to."
Witt, 34, gave the Islanders a two-goal advantage in the second with his first two goals of the season. Not only was it the first multi-goal game of his 14-season NHL career, but in one period he also tied his total goal output of the previous two seasons.
"I actually thought it would come sooner, knowing that we want our defensemen to get up into the play," Gordon said. "He's had a lot of shot opportunities from the blue line this year, and it was good to see a couple find the back of the net."
The Islanders dictated the game with a physical edge and spent the majority of the game in the offensive zone. They out-shot Edmonton 37-23 and limited the work of goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who made 22 saves against his former team.
"Right now we're a different team," captain Doug Weight said. "We're playing with confidence. We're not overstepping our boundaries. We're still putting the puck in good spots, skating, working well and creating a lot of good chances. I like the way we're playing."
Ethan Moreau scored the first goal of the game with a fortuitous bounce off the skate of Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek. As Martinek attempted to block Moreau's pass from behind the net, the puck caromed off his toe to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead at 11:02.
Rookie John Tavares tied it at 1 at 14:51 of the first with a laser from the slot for his fifth goal. Weight's forechecking along the boards allowed Matt Moulson to swoop in and retrieve the loose puck behind the net, where he tapped a pass in front for Tavares to snap past Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
From there, Witt took his cue, giving Khabibulin a two-goal wake-up call and the Islanders a 3-1 lead.
His first goal came after he threw the puck at the net from above the left circle, sliding it through the legs of an unsuspecting Khabibulin at 2:32.
Later in the period, Khabibulin was victimized again by Witt. He found a lane and shot the puck, deflecting it off Robert Nilsson's shin in front of the net to sneak it in and give the Islanders a two-goal advantage at 12:35.
"That's all I'm trying to do,'' Witt said. "With our forwards going to the net, [I'm] just trying to get pucks on net. I got fortunate on the first one, kind of caught Khabibulin - I don't think he was ready - and the second one I got fortunate when it went off one of their guys and beat him.
"You never know what happens when you throw the puck to the net.''
After Witt's two-goal night, Gordon joked that he may be tempted to find a new offensive role for the defenseman.
"Put him in the shootout."