Leading 4-1 thanks to a nifty Moulson deflection of rookie defenseman Travis Hamonic's right point shot off a Zenon Konopka faceoff win, the battered club saw their franchise goalie bent over in pain after stretching out to make a save during a Calgary power play. The trainer immediately came out and after a few minutes to see if he could stick it out, the ultracompetitive DiPietro finally was helped to the locker room to treat a groin strain.
“I don’t know if a man’s body is supposed to be contorted in those kind of positions,” the former 2000 No.1 overall selection said. ” I felt a twinge and hopefully it’s nothing serious.”With DP again sidelined, 27 year-old rookie Nathan Lawson fulfilled a childhood dream coming in relief to play the hero in front of the hometown crowd. The undrafted free agent from Alberta had previously debuted against Phoenix on Dec.18 making 32 saves in an overtime defeat. Here he was two weeks later forced into action under anxious circumstances. Not surprisingly, the Flames crept within 4-2 when David Moss converted at the doorstep for his second of the game. Pressing for more late in the second, Moss nearly had the hat trick if not for a clutch leg stop from Lawson, keeping his team comfortably ahead.
“I know what a competitor he is and he came in on a power play, too. Pretty rough go for it there but he accepted the challenge,” pleased coach Jack Capuano pointed out. “I thought he was square to the puck, played the rebounds pretty well, and he battled for us tonight.”
“It feels good to get a win and get a few games under my belt now,” the excited netminder expressed after turning aside 28 of 29 shots after the Flames came at him from every direction. “It’s a dream come true. I just want to keep rolling with it and prove myself now.”The power play was a big factor early on with the Islanders connecting twice in a three-goal first. Both times, Tavares struck. He opened the contest by beating Jay Bouwmeester in front for a gimme rebound off a P.A. Parenteau shot. After Moulson and Moss traded goals, the emerging sophomore pivot took a Andrew MacDonald cross ice feed at the left circle and wired one upstairs past Calgary backup Henrik Karlsson, restoring order less than two minutes after Moss tallied.
“A good all-around game for us,” Tavares noted after staying hot with 13 points (5-8-13) over his last nine. “Great for Lawson to get in there and do his thing, coming in cold. Everyone did their role and we handled the lead well and the pressure when we needed to.”Despite outshooting the Islanders 15-3 in the final stanza, Calgary couldn't draw closer thanks to Lawson who brought tears to his family. With Karlsson pulled, rookie Michal Grabner sealed it with an empty netter from Mark Eaton with 66 seconds left. It was his ninth goal. MacDonald and Parenteau each had two assists.
The Islanders (12-19-6, 30 Pts)have today and tomorrow off before visiting Edmonton Thursday night (9 ET) and Colorado Saturday afternoon (3 ET). The five-game Western trip concludes in the Windy City on Sunday.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Nathan Lawson, NYI (28 saves in relief for 1st career NHL win)
2nd Star-Matt Moulson, NYI (2 goals-13, 14)
1st Star-John Tavares, NYI (2 PPG-12, 13/ assist)