Slow start proves costly for Wild in one-goal loss to Islanders
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
The New York Islanders got goals from Andrew MacDonald and Frans Nielsen 2 minutes, 40 seconds apart in the first period on Monday and edged the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a Columbus Day matinee at Nassau Coliseum.
It was the Islanders' first victory of the season and the first defeat for the Wild, who opened the season on Saturday night with a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Al Montoya, a former goalie at Michigan, stopped 20 of 21 shots by the Wild.
The Islanders (1-1-0) appeared far more prepared at the outset of the game and proved it by scoring two goals in the first period and holding a 9-2 advantage in shots.
MacDonald got New York's first goal of the season when he stepped into the rebound of defense partner Travis Hamonic's shot that caromed out near the blue line. He ripped a drive that beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom and rattled in off the left post at 9:05. That was 11 seconds after Wild captain Mikko Koivu took a tripping penalty.
The lead grew to 2-0, again from the blue line. Mark Streit faked a shot from the left point, glided deeper into the zone, and wound up again. Instead of firing a shot, Streit - the new Islanders captain who missed all of last season because of a shoulder injury - sent a hard pass down to the right post to Nielsen for a perfect redirect goal at 11:45.
Backstrom kept the Islanders' lead at two goals in the first period by making an excellent save in the crease against Matt Moulson, who deflected a shot from point-blank range with just over 5 minutes remaining.
The Wild woke up in the second and third periods and outshot the Islanders 19-5 but Montoya stopped all but one of the shots he faced. Matt Cullen, the second-line center for the Wild, scored his team's only goal of the game 1:13 into the third.
It was the second goal of the season for Cullen.
"We played well in the second half of the game. The first half was disappointing," Cullen said. "The power play had a lot of chances, but couldn't convert. Montoya was very good."
Wild winger Dany Heatley had a team-high four shots but wound up with nothing to show for it.
"We were a little slow to start," he said. "In the second and third we responded well. We've got to find ways to finish."
The Islanders quick start was key, as was their performance on special teams.
MacDonald's goal came one of the Islanders' three power plays.
The Wild had seven chances with the man advantage and failed to score. This included a 5-on-3 power play for 44 seconds late in the second period.
• 0: Shots on goal the Wild had during their 44-second, two-man advantage.
• 1: Games left for Wild second-line right winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard to serve in his suspension for a high-stick infraction against Columbus forward Matt Calvert on Saturday. Bouchard will be eligible to return Thursday when the Wild will play host to Edmonton.
• 17: Shots blocked by the Islanders.
Islanders - Andrew MacDonald 1 (Travis Hamonic, PA Parenteau), 9:05, power play
Islanders - Frans Nielsen 1 (Mark Streit, P. Parenteau), 11:45
Shots: Wild 2-10-9-21; N.Y. Islanders 10-2-3-15. Saves: Wild, Niklas Backstrom (14-12); N.Y. Islanders, Montoya (21-20). Power plays: Wild 0-for-7, N.Y. Islanders 1-3.
1. Al Montoya
2. Andrew MacDonald
3. PA Parenteau
The Wild will face the Ottawa Senators at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday as they complete a two-game road trip. Backstrom has started the first two games in goal, so it's likely Josh Harding will play in this one.
The Associated Press contributed.