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Rolosons 58 saves steal one for Islanders

November 24, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments

Judging by his performance at the ACC last night, Dwayne Roloson could easily be mistaken for a thief. Thats cause he faced 61 shots, incredibly making 58 saves to backstop the Islanders to a 4-3 overtime win over the Maple Leafs. Brilliant doesnt even begin to describe the most saves by a goalie in a regular season game since Ron Tugnutts 70 for Quebec against Boston some 18 years ago on March 21, 1991 according to STATS.

???To me, it???s just another night, another game,??? a modest Roloson said after not allowing his team to lose after they blew a 3-0 lead. ???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.???

???I don???t ever remember a game like that,??? an exasperated Phil Kessel remarked after scoring a goal and accounting for a dozen of the Leafs 61 shots. ???I don???t even know what to say after something like that.???

One word comes to mind. Speechless. If not for Rollie, the Isles wouldve fallen behind early on the final game of a lengthy seven-game road trip that saw them instead finish 3-2-2. Indeed, the likable 40 year-old vet was on from the very outset, making strong stops on Leaf shooters in a busy first that saw the home club outshoot the Islanders 20-9. In fact, both netminders were razor sharp with Vesa Toskala stoning Richard Park on a break-in and Roloson then replying with two big stops on a Leaf power play, including a flat out denial on Lee Stempniak. There were other sparklers but none better to keep it scoreless.

Before his teammates erupted for the games first three markers, Roloson continued to thwart the Leafs by robbing Mikhail Grabovski point blank and shutting down Jason Blakes shorthanded bid and Luke Schenns point chance, flustering the hosts. Following a couple of more saves, the Isles turned the tables when defenseman Mark Streit made a perfect seam pass to spring Jeff Tambellini, who then went high glove on Toskala for his first since a Halloween hat trick versus Buffalo.

Finally with some momentum, the Islanders got another just 79 seconds later when North York, Ontario native Matt Moulson neatly deflected home his club-leading 11th from Jack Hillen and Trent Hunter. A nice reward for the hometown kid who has made good thanks to Garth Snow taking a chance on him. We wonder what LA is thinking. It was pretty amazing when I got that goal, he expressed. It was just a tip-in, but thats my type of goal. When it went in, I just looked around and thought, Wow, I just scored at the ACC.

Up by two, things continued to go the visitors way when Sean Bergenheim notched a shorthanded goal, completing a three-goal barrage in a 3:13 span. On an innocent looking play, the gritty forward who paced the club in SHG last season snapped a wrist shot from the top of the right circle which snuck past Toskalas shoulder, earning boos from the crowd. Bergenheims third was unassisted.

But before they could get too comfortable, the Maple Leafs struck back 1:15 later when Tomas Kaberle outworked a couple of Isles along the left boards, then finding Matt Stajan, who quickly dished to a wide open Kessel, who buried his sixth in 10 games. A great play but it wouldnt be the best of the night. Thatd come later. In the final half minute of the stanza, only a couple of Roloson stops on Stempniak kept it at two headed to the third. However, it didnt take long for that to change when Wayne Primeau rebounded home an Ian White shot at 2:10, slicing it to one. Stempniak, who played a superb game, got a secondary helper. Primeaus tally was extra special because his wife just gave birth to a son Manning. Congrats to the family.

In full attack mode, Toronto pressed for the equalizer and nearly had it on a power play but again Roloson said no. He made a couple of more remarkable stops from in tight to keep the Isles in front. Unfortunately, they couldnt hold it when Niklas Hagman took advantage of a bad line change, skating around Freddy Meyer before cutting in and going to the backhand to tie it with 10:42 left in regulation.

It would only get tougher for Rollie, who seconds later flat out robbed Kessel with a lightning quick reflex glove save on a perfect shot thru a screen, leaving the ex-Bruin chuckling in disbelief. Who could blame him when his team finished with a 23-4 SOG edge in a dominant Leaf third yet they were still tied. Amazingly, they nearly lost in regulation moments later when hometown native John Tavares had a mini-break on sub Jonas Gustavsson, who relieved an injured Toskala. But the wiz kid couldnt beat The Monster, in a topsy turvy game that needed overtime.

We can thank Roloson for the win tonight, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick praised after playing his first NHL game at the ACC. Roloson made all the saves for us tonight.

At that point, the Leafs had outshot the Isles 58-20 but it wasnt enough. Not surprisingly, they got another great chance to win it on the first shift of extras but Roloson somehow got a glove on a Hagman redirect on the doorstep. It was a perfect setup by White, who executed a shot pass to a wide open Hagman in front. The game shouldve been over. Incredibly, it wasnt leaving the great Leaf announcers in shock with one even saying:

Ya gotta be kidding. I mean, Are you kidding me?

The Leafs got the first three shots of OT making it 61-20. It just didnt MATTER! Rolosons performance was one for the ages, making Snow look like a genius for inking him. Rick who? Fittingly, the Islanders won it when Josh Bailey scored for a third consecutive game with 43 ticks to go on an outstanding play by Bergenheim, who quickly one-timed a pass to the second-year pivot for a gimme that completed the highway robbery. White turned over the puck to Bruno Gervais, whose sharp angle try caromed off Gustavsson right to Bergenheim, who didnt shoot, allowing Bailey to be the hero. Just an all around brilliant play.

At the end, the total shots read: NYI-21, Tor-61. But the scoreboard said: NYI-4 Tor-3 OT. All cause of Roloson, who finished 2-0-2 on the trip, winning his seventh game. Overall, hes 7-2-5 with a 2.86 GAA and .916 save percentage in 14 starts on a team expected to challenge for the cellar. Instead, thanks in large part to him, the Islanders are 9-8-7 with 25 points, tied with the Rangers, Lightning and Flyers in a crowded East.

???Roloson was outstanding,??? Gordon praised while quipping:

???We didn???t tell Dwayne, but we figured as long as they didn???t hit 70 shots, we???d be all right.???

They sure were.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Josh Bailey, NYI (OT winner, 4:17, 3rd cons. gm w/goal, SOG in 11:45)

2nd Star-Sean Bergenheim, NYI (SHG plus assist, 3 SOG, +2 in 17:42)

1st Star-Dwayne Roloson, NYI (franchise best 58 saves-20 in 1st, 14/15 in 2nd, 21/23 in 3rd, 3 in OT)

readers comments
  1. Hasan on November 24th, 2009 7:46 pm

    I just heard about the shot total and the Isles unlikely win so I did want to read more about this game, kinda wish I had watched that.

  2. Derek Felix on November 25th, 2009 2:29 am

    Ill tell ya what. I will link up the game highlights for you. Its 9+ mins! That should tell ya how good it was.

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