Islanders 5, Sabres 0: Tambellini hat trick and a Biron shutout

[Updates: More tidbits added after the jump. Plus, look to the right for some new FanPosts on Tambellini patience and notice recognized for the "Godzilla" Islanders.] 

Now that's a weekend.

Friday night the excuse was the Capitals didn't play their game (which is, you know, sort of important for winning hockey games). Saturday it was that the Sabres lineup was flu-ridden. Whatever the circumstances, the Islanders took the openings given to them, and the result is a three-game winning streak. During that streak, the Islanders have outscored opponents at even strength 10-2, a figure that was almost unthinkable at any point last year.

Game Summary | Event Summary | nhl.com Recap | Isles Recap



No matter who you are, mini-streaks like this happen. But it's huge for a young Islanders squad that it's happened this early. To turn the page on last year and convince themselves they really are a year further along (plus two goalies, one superstar, and one winger richer) than last season, it's key that their first month -- despite a tough schedule -- go better than October 2008.

And with a 5-0 win over Buffalo, for Martin Biron's 200th NHL win and Jeff Tambellini's first NHL hat trick, it has. October 2008: 2-6-1 and a goalie crisis. October 2009: 4-4-5 and two goalies appearing to find their groove.

Since I have to run, that's all for now. But I'll update this post later -- and you can add yours in comments/FanPosts, etc. Islanders win, baby. Islanders win. Update: Videos, thoughts and factoids added after the jump, for posterity's sake.


How awesome does it feel to be Jeff Tambellini right now? After years of waiting (and hard work, and adjustment), he's finally scoring at the NHL level, he just had a hat trick -- in front of his father, for his father's old team, no less -- at home, causing Nassau Coliseum fans to chant, "Tam-bel-li-ni, {clap-clap, clap-clap-clap}." For a guy who was scratched for five games this month, suddenly October 2009 goes down as the most memorable yet of his career.

Tambellini on his big night:

"I was just happy to have some success with Josh Bailey and Dougy Weight ... to develop some chemistry there.  From the start I had to sit a few games, and rightfully so -- I had to prove myself."


Scott Gordon on Tambellini:

"I think the biggest thing is that he's getting his shot off."He's also going to the front of the net."

Yes, and yes. He's also finally gotten a bit of the luck you need to break through. And most impressive to me, he's done everything asked of him, adapting his game, working on the physical side last year, and maintaining a positive approach despite handling under three different regimes that would have crushed the spirit of many prospects. At age 25, instead of facing his career's last stand, he may be finally turning the corner.

Faceoffs

The Islanders again won the faceoff battle, though by a smaller margin (32 to 27, 54%), with Richard Park single-handedly providing the difference (13 to 5, 72%).

Goaltending

Despite Tambellini's night, Martin Biron was awarded the 1st star -- for a shutout and his 200th victory. It's easy to forget with a 5-0 final score that Biron kept the Islanders in the game during a flat first period. The Sabres actually outshot the Isles 38-30 -- 14-9 in the first -- though that margin was helped by considerable powerplay time, where the Sabres got 10 of their shots. Biron's heroics made this Islanders' celebration possible.

Roloson stepped up against the Rangers and Capitals. Biron took his turn against his old mates. Can Roloson match that with his old Oilers teammates in town Monday?

Secondary Scoring! ... And Time On Ice

With the game evolving into a blowout, the ice times were more balanced than normal. Chiefly creating this, though, was the play of the Tambellini/Bailey/Weight line, which created two of the goals (Tamby's second and Bailey's; Tamby's first was with Bergenheim and Park, and his third was on the PP). So huge to see that line cooking, particularly on a night when the first line looked sluggish.

Jon Sim and Tim Jackman were the only forwards under 10 minutes -- everybody else, outside of Frans Nielsen's 12:12, was above 13. With the score out of hand, the defense got an easier night, too, with even Brendan Witt (16:50) and Jack Hillen (15:52) getting a few more minutes than the previous two wins.

Check the Sabres reaction at Die by the Blade.

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