04 October 2009
The New York Islanders got their 2009-2010 regular season underway on Saturday night at home. Despite being one of fifteen games on Saturday as every team in the league saw action, the defending Champion Penguins visiting the Isles was one of the more anticipated games due to the debut of first overall draft pick John Tavares. And #91, the youngster carrying all of Long Island's hopes on his shoulders this season didn't disappoint.
16,234 fans were eager to watch and see if Tavares would play to a level equal to that of what his draft status called for, and they should all feel good about what they saw.
Things didn't start off as well as the home crowd had hoped as Sidney Crosby opened the scoring at 8:50 in the first period to give the Penguins the lead. But less than four minutes later, while on the power play, Mark Streit scored the first Islanders goal of the season to tie things up. Streits goal was assisted by Kyle Okposo and John Tavares, as he would record his first NHL point. The first period ended tied at one.
Only one goal was scored in the second period, but it was one to remember for Islander fans and John Tavares, as he would record his second NHL point by scoring his first career NHL goal while on the power play. Matt Moulson and Trent Hunter got the assists on the milestone goal.
Starting the third up by one, the Islanders were hoping to hold off their division rival and open the season with a win, but 7:19 into the period Mark Eaton scored his first goal of the year to tie things up. Only 17 seconds later, however, Trent Hunter put the Islanders back on top with his first of the year. But with just under four minutes to play Ruslan Fedotenko beat Dwayne Roloson to tie things up at three.
The first 60 minutes would fail to yield a winner, so the teams headed to overtime. The Penguins outshot the Islanders 4-1 in the five minute OT period, to finish with a decisive shot advantage of 42-28 on the game, but they were unable to score, sending the game to a shootout.
It would take only two rounds of the shootout to decide a winner, as Jeff Tambellini and John Tavares failed to hit the net, and both Kris Letang and Crosby would find twine to claim the 4-3 victory.
A loss wasn't want Islander fans wanted on opening night, but they did come away with one point in the standings. And more importantly, they came away having seen a solid outing from their spotlighted rookie. John Tavares would finish the night with two points on one goal and one assist, two shots, and 22:05 of ice time; a solid first game of his career.
The Islanders next game is Thursday, October 8th as they go on the road for the first time to take on the Ottawa Senators.
Now let's take a look at some notable teams from each conference from the first three days of the regular season.
Philadelphia Flyers-If you've been keeping track of the various prognosticators on TV, you'd see a lot of them are picking the Flyers to win the Cup this year. Adding Pronger was definitely a plus, but questions swirled around the return of Ray Emery. He didn't disappoint in their first two games, though. A 1.00 Goals Against Average is what he sports after his first two starts; shutting out the Hurricanes and giving up only two to the Devils. And the Flyers scorers showed up as well putting in seven goals in two games.
Washington Capitals-One game each from Theodore and Varlamov in net, but the goaltending battle will not be closely watched if the offense can continue to average five goals a game throughout the early part of the season. Dropping four goals on Boston and six on Toronto, including three goals and six points from Alex Ovechkin, the Caps look like they're ready to rumble as the season starts.
Boston Bruins-After falling in their opener to the aforementioned Capitals, the Bruins came back to score a touchdown as they beat the Hurricanes 7-2. Their first game wasn't how they wanted to open the year, but their second was more along the lines of what fans probably expect. If they can find consistency and play how they did against Carolina, they'll be strong once again.
Carolina Hurricanes-Getting shutout 2-0 then blown up 7-2 isn't how you want to start the season. A surprising run to the Eastern Finals last year gave this team high hopes coming into this season, but their start is going to only raise questions. And we'll have to wait and hear about his condition, but looking at the replay last night, Erik Cole isn't going to be playing for a while. Legs don't bend forward at the knee normally the way his did last night; losing him for an extended period of time will only hurt the Canes even more.
Calgary Flames-Canadian based teams have very passionate fan bases, so head to head Canada matchups are always tough games. Calgary opened up with games against their two division/country rivals but were able to top both Vancouver and Edmonton to open the season. Calgary once again has high hopes this season and they got off on the right foot.
Colorado Avalanche-I, along with many others, had this team being one of the worst this season. But in their first two games, they've come out and not only won, but done so by taking on the identities of their opponents. A 5-2 score versus San Jose would have made sense if the Sharks won, but it was the Avs who lit it up. And a 3-0 shutout wouldn't have seemed odd if one of the top goalies in the league in Roberto Luongo closed down Colorado, but it was newly acquired Craig Anderson who kept every Vancouver shot out of his net. The Avs have 80 games to fall apart, but their first two wins are promising.
Detroit/St. Louis-These two go together after playing a pair of games in Sweden, both of which the Blues won. I believe this was a combination of the Wings taking time to adjust to losing so much offense power from last year mixed with the Blues just being a stronger team. A healthy Paul Kariya and Erik Johnson for the whole year will only make a team that stormed from 15th to 6th in the West in the second half of the season stronger. And Detroit just needs to find their groove with their new set of players. I remain weary of Detroit's goaltending situation; is Chris Osgood going to be able to replicate the performance he had this past postseason all this year? And Jimmy Howard is unproven, and I'm not yet sold on his ability in the NHL. If I'm Ken Holland, I'm calling Chuck Fletcher in Minnesota and making whatever deal I can to get Josh Harding on my team.
The first weekend of the NHL season has come and gone, and the season now starts to get into full swing.
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