John Tavares is putting up points. Now the New York Islanders have to figure out how to translate his early production into wins.
Mike Fisher scored 32 seconds into overtime to give the Ottawa Senators a victory over the Islanders on Thursday night in the Canadian regular-season debut of prized prospect Tavares.
Fisher broke down the left side and put the first shot of the extra period past Martin Biron as Ottawa (2-1) won its home opener.
“They pushed pretty hard, especially when they got that power-play goal in the third and they got a bit of momentum out of it,” said Ottawa goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who made 23 saves in his third straight start for the Senators.
“Then we got that big goal in overtime. It’s pretty exciting, and as a goalie you like that. You don’t have to go to a shootout, and the fans get what they want. So it’s a good night. It shows a lot of character.”
Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NHL draft, recorded his third point in two games with the Islanders (0-0-2).
“He’s crafty,” Fisher said. “He makes plays and he’s good with the puck. On the power play, we’ve got to key in on him. He can make plays, for sure.”
The 19-year-old centre assisted on Matt Moulson’s power-play goal 5:29 into the third which drew New York even at 2-2, allowing the Islanders to earn their second point in the standings.
“I thought I did well and I’m hoping to do better next time and keep improving from there,” said Tavares, who had a goal and an assist in his debut, a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.
While Tavares’s Canadian debut could have gone better, former Senator Dany Heatley’s first home game with the Sharks was a smashing success. Heatley scored a hat trick and had the fans at the Shark Tank chanting his name as San Jose beat Columbus 6-3.
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Calgary 4 Edmonton 3 (SO); Pittsburgh 5 Philadelphia 4; Anaheim 6 Boston 1; Buffalo 2 Phoenix 1; New York Rangers 4 Washington 3; Detroit 3 Chicago 2; New Jersey 4 Tampa Bay 3 (SO); Atlanta 4 St. Louis 2; Nashville 3 Colorado 2; and Los Angeles 6 Minnesota 3.
At Ottawa, Tavares came close to scoring in the second, but Leclaire stuck out his left pad to deny his shot at an open right side.
“I didn’t even know it was him, it happened too quick,” Leclaire said. “He’s good. He’s got a lot of pressure on him. Everybody’s looking at what he does, and he’s already an impact player on that team. The way he handles the puck, he’s patient already and he doesn’t get rattled – he’s going to be a good one for sure.”
Ottawa defenceman Matt Carkner scored his first career goal 13:12 into the second to give the Senators a 2-0 lead after he assisted on Peter Regin’s first-period tally.
“I thanked (Fisher) at the end there for winning the game,” Carkner said. “If we didn’t win, it wouldn’t have felt half as good. It was awesome to get the win.”
Kyle Okposo, Tavares’ and Moulson’s linemate, drew the Islanders within 2-1 late in the second with his first goal of the season.
Biron, in his first Islanders start, stopped 25 shots. He made a huge glove save on Alex Kovalev during an Ottawa power play with 6:20 remaining in regulation.
“We got two points in two games, but the other teams got four,” Biron said. “We know that we fought hard, we fought hard against Pittsburgh at home, we had the lead, took the lead again, we fought back to get in the game tonight – we’re not satisfied with that.
“People might look at it as positive. It’s a step, but it’s not the step we want to take. The guys are not happy about losing. We all hate losing and that’s a good sign.”
Doug Weight made his debut as the 12th captain in Islanders franchise history after sitting out the home opener because of a groin injury.
Moulson took Weight’s centring pass from the left corner and beat Leclaire with a shot from the goal mouth.
Regin opened the scoring 7:25 in when he redirected Chris Neil’s shot from the edge of the crease for his second of the season.
Carkner, a second-round pick by Montreal in the 1999 draft who played in two NHL games before this season, scored his first goal 13:12 into the second to put the Senators up 2-0.
Carkner carried the puck down the right side and was behind the goal line when he centred the puck, which struck Biron’s stick and caromed into the net.
“It’s definitely not something that I planned, but it was a definite bonus for me,” Carkner said.
Okposo made it 2-1 with 2:04 remaining in the second. Moulson earned an assist when Okposo finished off a strong individual effort as he cut to the net from the left side and reached around to swipe the puck past Leclaire.
Sharks 6 Blue Jackets 3
At San Jose, Calif., Dany Heatley made a good first impression on his new fans, scoring three goals in his home debut to lead the Sharks chased star Columbus goalie Steve Mason from the game.
Flames 4 Oilers 3 (SO)
At Edmonton, Olli Jokinen scored the shootout winner and the Calgary Flames earned their second dramatic road victory over the Oilers.
Penguins 5 Flyers 4
At Philadelphia, Bill Guerin and Alex Goligoski scored midway through the second period to help Pittsburgh hand the Flyers their first loss of the season.
Ducks 6 Bruins 1
At Boston, Teemu Selanne scored two goals 82 seconds apart in the second period, and Corey Perry had two goals and an assist to lead Anaheim to its first victory of the season.
Sabres 2 Coyotes 1
At Buffalo, N.Y., Thomas Vanek snapped a late third-period tie, and Ryan Miller made 23 saves for the Sabres.
Rangers 4 Capitals 3
At Washington, Marian Gaborik scored two goals about 2 1/2 minutes apart in the third period for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist held Alex Ovechkin without a point.
Red Wings 3 Blackhawks 2
At Detroit, Kris Draper and Johan Franzen scored 1:34 apart late in the second period to put Detroit ahead and Chris Osgood made 31 saves in a rematch of Western Conference finalists.
Devils 4 Lightning 3 (SO)
At Tampa, Fla., Travis Zajac scored with one second left in regulation, and New Jersey went on to the shootout victory.
Thrashers 4 Blues 2
At St. Louis, Ilya Kovalchuk scored the go-ahead goal in the first period and added an empty-netter for Atlanta to spoil the Blues’ home opener.
Predators 3 Avalanche 2
At Nashville, Tenn., Patric Hornqvist scored twice 2:17 apart in the third period for Nashville in its home opener.
Kings 6 Wild 3
At Los Angeles, Ryan Smyth scored two goals to help the Kings to a victory over Minnesota.