Big first period leads Islanders over Blues

PA Stats Inc
The Hockey News

Big first period leads Islanders over Blues

PA Stats Inc

By Doug Mitler
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- A spirited first period by the
New York Islanders gave coach Scott Gordon his first NHL win.

Trent Hunter and Sean Bergenheim scored 93 seconds apart in the
first period and Joey MacDonald stopped 24 shots as the
Islanders won their fifth straight home opener with a 5-2
victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Mike Comrie and Andy Hilbert also scored in the opening session
for the Islanders, who managed just one goal in a season-opening
2-1 loss at New Jersey on Friday. One night later, New York
easily controlled the early play, outshooting St. Louis, 15-6,
and taking a 4-1 lead after the first 20 minutes.

"The guys just jumped right into (Gordon's) system," said
Islanders right wing Bill Guerin, who capped the strong showing
with an empty-net goal. "The system he's implemented is
something we believe in and something we feel we can win with."

The eventful opening period included a power-play goal by Hunter
and a shorthanded tally by Hilbert.

All of the goals came against backup goalie Chris Mason, who
made his debut for the Blues after spending the first six
seasons of his career with the Nashville Predators.

"We just kind of came out flat footed," Mason said. "We just
got outplayed in the first period. I would have liked to have
every one of those goals back. I don't think we were ready for
what they threw at us."

It was a night to savor for Gordon, who coached the last six
seasons for the Boston Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence.

"Our guys played with more urgency. Being relentless, not
letting them off the hook," Gordon said. "Billy (Guerin) gave
me that game puck and said, 'I hope there are many more to

The 45-year-old did not take over as coach until mid-August,
when the Islanders parted ways with Ted Nolan.

"I played for him in Providence," Hilbert said. "He worked hard
to get where he's at."

MacDonald started in goal for New York for the second straight
night in place of All-Star Rick DiPietro, who underwent hip and
knee surgeries in the offseason. MacDonald took advantage of
the early cushion, earning his first NHL win since March 27,
2007, when he was a member of the Bruins.

"I'm going to take every game like I'm playing," MacDonald said.
"If that's the case, then I'll be ready."

Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk scored for the Blues, who defeated
the Predators, 5-2, in their season opener on Friday.

Tkachuk was stopped on a breakaway by MacDonald in the second
period but collected his third goal of the season midway through
the third, putting home the rebound of a shot by Paul Kariya
with the man advantage to make it 4-2. But that was as close as
the Blues would get.

"When you lose, there aren't many positives. There is no such
thing as the old college try," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said.

Comrie gave the Islanders the lead 2:18 into the contest,
burying the rebound of Richard Park's shot.

With Blues defenseman Barret Jackman off for interference,
Hunter gave the Islanders a 2-0 advantage when his slap shot
from inside the blue line trickled between the legs of Mason and
into the net. Bergenheim gave New York a three-goal cushion 93
seconds later with a wrist shot from between the circles that
went off Mason's pad and in.

Boyes cut the deficit to 3-1 with his first goal of the season,
but Hilbert made it 4-1, converting a pass from blue-liner Mark
Streit with 46 seconds left in the first.


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Big first period leads Islanders over Blues