When deciding on a starting goaltender for last night’s game, Islanders head coach Scott Gordon factored in some history and played a hunch.
With Dwayne Roloson’s stunning 58-save performance at Air Canada Centre last November in mind, Gordon gave the 41-year-old netminder his second straight nod.
“His ability to play in the building is something we’ll use to our advantage and hopefully that will carry over tonight,” said Gordon, referring to November 23, 2009 when Roloson single-handedly carried the Islanders to a 4-3 overtime win despite being outshot 61-21.
Roloson, who turned away 28 shots to help the Islanders earn a 5-2 win over Colorado Saturday, delivered another brilliant performance at ACC. Roloson stood on his head and made 29 saves to lead the team to a 2-1 OT win over the undefeated Maple Leafs.
Matt Moulson tallied his third goal of the season for the team's regulation goal, and after Phil Kessel buried a rebound for a third-period equalizer, Oakville, Ontario native John Tavares gave the team its second consecutive victory with his right circle winner, a power-play goal, 3:26 into the overtime period.
If anything, Gordon’s choice provides some insight into how the Islanders will use both Roloson and their opening-night No. 1 goaltender Rick DiPietro.
After giving DiPietro the first two starts of the season—opening night against Dallas and the following Monday against the Rangers—the Islanders clearly designated DiPietro as the team’s true starter.
And while Roloson was predicted to receive his fair share of starts regardless of his position on the depth chart, it appears the Islanders are open to riding the hot hand and taking into account prior match-ups when selecting a goaltender each game.
“[Gordon] gave us a game plan the first week and now it’s go from there. It’s out of my worries, I’ve just got to go out and play and control things I can,” Roloson said before the game.
“It’s one of those things I can’t control. I can’t control who is playing and when I’m playing. For me to focus on that—and mentally worry about it—it’s only going to affect my play.”
But Roloson does have experience with splitting starts. He did so with fellow netminder Manny Fernandez during the 2002-03 season when they combined to lead the Minnesota Wild to the franchise's first post-season appearance.
"It's one of those things that’s an oxymoron," Roloson said. "You want to play all the time, but sometimes it’s a lot more rewarding when you’re not playing. You’re rested. It’s a fine line."
Gordon will have to walk that fine line throughout the season, deciding which goaltender to play and when, but last night was a good gauge on how that game plan just might work.
****Josh Bailey was injured in the second period and did not return to the third period because of a hip flexor injury, although the injury is not believed to be too serious
**** Taped to the Islanders' dressing room board was an article from a Toronto newspaper, with what may have seemed like a throwaway line to Maple Leafs fans. It did not, however, go unnoticed by the Islanders, who highlighted the passage and used it as motivation.
It read something like this:
"We may not know how real the Maple Leafs really are, but they should be 5-0 after a win over the Islanders Monday."
I guess the team does not like to be treated like a foregone conclusion. Only other time I saw something taped to the board was an article from a Vancouver paper last season that misspelled Matt Moulson's name wrong and basically labeled the team as a bunch of AHL replacement types. They won that game, too.