Flames spoil opening of Islanders' new arena with 5-2 win
NEW YORK - Andrew Mangiapane scored two power-play goals to help the Calgary Flames spoil the Islanders' debut of their new home arena next to Belmont Park, beating New York 5-2 on Saturday night.
Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Johnny Gaudreau also scored, and Noah Hanafin had two assists to help Calgary extend its point streak to five games (3-0-2). Jacob Markstrom stopped 34 shots.
“The whole game was a lot of energy in the building,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “We were battling, we were trying to hang in there. ... It's a process for our team in terms of learning how to play in hard, physical games."
Brock Nelson scored twice for the short-handed Islanders, who were missing seven players and lost their fifth straight. It marked New York's longest losing streak in regulation in four seasons under coach Barry Trotz.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Nelson said. “We had some momentum down one - we just couldn’t get one to tie it. ... I thought we did a pretty good job trying to keep it simple. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Semyon Varlamov had 26 saves to fall to 0-3-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average this season.
The Islanders were without six players - captain Anders Lee, forwards Josh Bailey, Ross Johnston and Anthony Beauvillier, and defensemen Adam Pelech and Andy Greene - for the debut of UBS Arena due to COVID-19 protocols. Defenseman Ryan Pulock is out for 4-6 weeks due to a lower body injury.
“A little bit of adversity for our group,” Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri said. “Barry has harped on staying in the moment. I thought we came out and did just that. ... We were playing for each other and the guys who couldn’t be here tonight.”
Nelson got his second of the night and team-high ninth of the season to pull the Islanders within a goal, 3-2, at 1:49 of the third period. Oliver Wahlstrom had the puck in the left corner and as he moved toward the net, Flames defenseman Tyler Pitlick knocked the puck away but it came to Nelson on the right side and he tapped it past Markstrom.
The Islanders pulled Varlamov for an extra skater with just under 2 minutes remaining, but Lewis scored an empty-netter with 1:15 left and Gaudreau added another with 38 seconds to go.
“(Markstrom) was probably our best player there,” Richardson said. "He made some big saves. ... I think they had the pace in the third but we held on and kept our composure."
Mangiapane pushed Calgary's lead to 3-1 with his second power-play goal of the night as he deflected Hanafin's shot past Varlamov at 6:43 of the second. It was Mangiapane's 14th of the season and seventh on the power play. He scored two goals for the second straight game, and has seven in the last seven games.
Richardson scored for the Flames 4:05 into the game, taking advantage of a turnover by the Islanders in their defensive zone. Matt Martin's backward pass was picked up by Richardson, who skated in and beat Varlamov on the blocker side for his second.
It quieted the sellout crowd of 17,255 that had roared during pregame introductions that included Islanders greats Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, John Tonelli, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow and Bob Nystrom.
“The atmosphere was electric," Palmieri said. "They were excited for us, excited to be here. We just couldn’t get the result we wanted.”
Mangiapane made it 2-0 with 6:32 left as he deflected Noah Hanafin's point shot in the left circle past Varlamov.
With the Islanders on their fourth power play of the opening period, Nelson got them on the scoreboard with their first goal in the new building with 22.8 seconds left. He immediately raised his hands to celebrate, but officials told them to play on.
When time ran out, the play was reviewed and the officials determined the puck hit the camera in the back of the net and came back out, giving Nelson his eighth of the season.
It was New York's fifth power-play goal of the season. The Islanders were 0 for 12 on the power play over their previous six games.
BEEN A LONG TIME
The Islanders and Flames met for the first time since Feb. 19, 2019 - 999 days ago. The Islanders were in Calgary when the season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. The game on March 12, 2020, was the first game canceled for both teams. The NHL had a shortened, division-only schedule last season to cut down on travel.
The Flames were also the opponents in the Islanders’ first game at Nassau Coliseum. The Flames, who were based in Atlanta at the time, won that game 3-2 on Oct. 7, 1972, in the Islanders’ inaugural game.
Right wing Richard Panik and center Andy Andreoff made their Islanders debuts, and defensemen Grant Hutton and Robin Salo made their NHL debuts after all four were called up from Bridgeport of the AHL.
Islanders: Host Toronto on Sunday night.
By VIN A. CHERWOO
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