Led by remarkable Roloson, Isles beat Maple Leafs in OT
TORONTO -- It's been 18 years since a goalie had a night like Islanders netminder Dwayne Roloson.
Roloson turned aside 58 shots to help the New York Islanders beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on Monday night. It was the most saves since Ron Tugnutt stopped 70 shots for Quebec on March 21, 1991 according to STATS.
"To me, it's just another night, another game," said the 40-year-old Roloson. "It doesn't matter to me whether it's one shot or 100 shots, I've got to do the same things, try to give my team a chance to win."
The victory improved Roloson's record to 2-0-2 on the lengthy trip, and 7-2-5 overall this season. The Islanders went 3-2-2 on the seven-game trip to improve to 9-8-7 in 2009-10, but they know they wouldn't have been so successful if not for the tireless Roloson in net.
"I don't ever remember a game like that," said Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who had 12 shots himself. "I don't even know what to say after something like that."
Roloson, who signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer, made several great saves -- the most painful of which was No. 52, a hard shot from Mikhail Grabovski that hit him directly in the mask. It's the kind of performance his new team has come to expect.
"Roloson was outstanding," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "We didn't tell Dwayne, but we figured as long as they didn't hit 70 shots, we'd be all right."
Josh Bailey scored 4:18 into overtime, taking a pass from Sean Bergenheim and slamming the puck into an open net to make a winner of Roloson. It was the Islanders only shot of the extra period. Jeff Tambellini, Matt Moulson and Bergenheim also scored for New York (9-8-7).
Kessel, Wayne Primeau and Niklas Hagman replied for the Maple Leafs (4-11-7).
It was a relatively quiet night for Islanders rookie John Tavares, who admitted to feeling some nerves before a game that was attended by roughly 100 friends and family. The 19-year-old from nearby Oakville was limited to one quality scoring chance -- he roared in off the wing in third period and had a shot stopped by Jonas Gustavsson.
Like his teammates, Tavares left with a big smile on his face.
"I felt pretty good out there," he said. "I just wanted to play well. It's the city I grew up in. It was a lot of fun tonight, and a great ending for us."
The Islanders surged to a 3-0 lead over a span of 3:13. Tambellini took a nice breakaway pass from Mark Streit and beat Vesa Toskala high, Moulson pumped his fists after tipping home his team-leading 11th of the season and Bergenheim came in alone on a short-handed rush and roofed a shot over Toskala.
Suddenly, the boos poured down from an Air Canada Centre crowd that has witnessed just two wins in 11 games this season.
"I think we're moving in the right direction here," said defenseman Ian White.
A glimpse of hope arrived soon after off the stick of Kessel, who scored for the sixth time in 10 games with the Maple Leafs. He charged hard to the goal and had a tap-in after taking a nice pass from Matt Stajan at 15:32.
Shortly after, Toskala pulled himself from the game because he aggravated a groin injury.
"Just a little tweak," he said. "Hopefully, it doesn't take too long (to feel better)."
Primeau scored at 2:10 of the third period from his knees before Hagman roared around Freddy Meyer and made it 3-3 at 9:18.
At that point, all signs pointed to a comeback Leafs victory. Instead, the NHL's last-place team found itself with an improbable loss.
"It was unbelievable," said Kessel. "You know again, we didn't win. We've got to bury one more puck. It's unfortunate. We're going to keep battling and keep working. We've got a good hockey club here -- we're better than our record shows."
Leafs forward John Mitchell left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. ... Jeff Finger (lower body) and Rickard Wallin (healthy) were scratched by Toronto. ... The Islanders sat out Rob Schremp, Andrew MacDonald and Blake Comeau. ... Toronto took three of four meetings between the teams a year ago ... The Leafs had 46 shots against Montreal on opening night.
Regular Season Series
NYI lead 1-0
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