There is optimism that this season's new-look team, featuring
eight fresh faces, may take hold following an impressive 5-3
season-opening victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.
Center Brock Nelson scored twice and added two assists while center
John Tavares and newly-acquired defenseman Johnny Boychuk added
three points each as the Islanders spoiled the debut of Hurricanes
coach Bill Peters.
The game wasn't really close as the Islanders built a 5-1 lead
before Carolina closed the gap with three third-period goals.
"This is a big starting point for us, the new faces in the locker
room contributed in a big way and that's why they are here," Nelson
said. "When we have more than a couple guys on the score sheet we're
going to be a pretty good hockey club."
"It feels good to get a win, but even better the way things happened
for me," said Boychuk. "You know, to contribute. It makes you feel
that much more comfortable."
The Boston Bruins dealt Boychuk six days ago for draft picks in a
salary cap move, and the former Stanley Cup champion paid immediate
dividends for his new club, scoring 13 seconds after the Islanders
went on a 5-on-3 power play late in the first period. Nelson added
his first goal less than two minutes later, just seconds after
Carolina's second penalty expired as New York grabbed a 2-0 lead.
"We had a good week in practice on the power play. We worked hard on
it," Tavares said. "Our coaching staff does an excellent job with
our details and framework. There are a just a lot of little things
that go into it, and Johnny came in and fit in right away. We just
want to take the shots when they are there and we obviously have the
guys to do that now."
"Boychuk opens us so much for us up top, it's so nice to have that
shooting threat," added Nelson. "It might draw some guys off of us
and open more things up. He definitely benefits our power play."
Nelson, a first-round pick in 2010 who scored 14 goals in his rookie
season last year, made it 3-0 with 12:22 left in the second when a
shot from the point from Boychuk went off his knee and past
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.
"Last year was a good learning curve for me," Nelson said. "This
year is a little bit different, knowing what to expect and being
confident in all areas. If I'm put out there in different situations
you have execute and believe in the guys in this locker room. We're
all stressing believing in each other."
Carolina couldn't manage much offense in this one without two of its
top four forwards -- Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Jordan Staal
(broken leg) out with injuries. Skinner led the Hurricanes with 33
goals last season but went down in the last preseason game with his
third concession in the last three seasons. Staal, arguably the
team's best two-way center, suffered his injury Sept. 23 and is out
[to top of second column]
Peters, a former assistant with the Detroit Red Wings, vowed to
improve one of the NHL's worst power plays when he was hired to
replace Kirk Muller, but the Hurricanes had the man advantage in the
first two minutes of each of the first two periods and couldn't
mount any attack against Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak until
left winger Nathan Gerbe scored with the extra man 1:25 into the
third to make it 3-1.
Less than four minutes later, center Mikhail Grabovski added New
York's fourth goal and defenseman Travis Hamonic scored with 7:41
left to push the lead to 5-1. Nelson added assists on New York's
final two goals.
Left winger Chris Terry and center Eric Staal added late goals for
the Hurricanes to round out the scoring.
Ward allowed five goals on just 26 shots.
"I always look at the team in front of the goaltender before I look
at the goaltender," Peters said of Ward's performance. "I thought he
was fine. I thought we broke down too many times unnecessarily and
any time that happens good players are going to make you pay and
that's what happened."
NOTES: The Islanders' 23-man roster featured eight new players,
including rookie D Griffin Reinhart, the fourth overall pick in
2012. He played close to 17 minutes... D Ron Hainsey, who was named
one of three alternate captains for Carolina, hasn't logged a minute
in the playoffs in 673 career games. ... C Victor Rask and C Patrick
Brown made their NHL debuts for the Hurricanes. ... After allowing
the second-most goals in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders begin
the season with two new goalies -- Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson
-- who have a combined record of 165-91-35 after Friday's win by
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