Afanasenkov's SO goal lifts Lightning past IslandersNov 18, 2006 - 4:01 AM
Afanasenkov scored the only goal of the shootout in the seventh round to reward goaltender Johan Holmqvist for a splendid effort and lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 triumph over the New York Islanders.
Holmqvist finished with 29 saves and denied all seven shootout attempts for Tampa Bay, which recovered from squandering an early 2-0 lead to win for the fourth time in five games.
"Both goalies were sensational in the shootout and game," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We're excited about the way Johan is playing. He is playing very sharp and had another terrific outing."
The Lightning came up empty on their first six shootout chances, but Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro needed to make only a pair of saves in that stretch. Three of Tampa Bay's skaters - Martin St. Louis, Vaclav Prospal and defenseman Filip Kuba - had the puck pokechecked by DiPietro before they even attempted a shot.
"DiPietro is just unbelievably tough," St. Louis said. "You have to be at your best and he just kept on coming out a little further and taking it away from us."
Afanasenkov didn't make that mistake, unleashing a wrister that snuck between DiPietro's pads and trickled across the goal line.
"I wasn't sure if I squeezed it past him or not," Afanasenkov said. "He is so tough and everyone knows how tough he is, especially in moments when it is all on the line."
Holmqvist preserved the victory with a glove save on Andy Hilbert's backhander. He opened the shootout by stopping Miroslav Satan's attempt with his left pad and also made a nice glove save on Trent Hunter in the fourth round.
"I kind of enjoyed that tonight. You want that as a goalie," Holmqvist said. "It's something you usually practice a lot and I felt pretty good. I knew I would have to be at my best to have a chance to beat someone like DiPietro."
The Lightning jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind goals from Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards in the first 5:08 of the contest. Both tallies were set up on feeds by Vincent Lecavalier.
New York quickly answered at 8:00 of the opening session on defenseman Radek Martinek's first goal of the season. Mike York drew the Islanders even with 39 seconds left in the second period with his fifth tally. Both goals came on slap shots from the right faceoff circle that beat Holmqvist to the short side.
"We battled hard and tied it up and showed a lot of character," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "It was a solid night for us."
DiPietro finished with 36 saves for New York, which had its brief two-game winning streak snapped.
"(DiPietro) was sharp again," Nolan said. "We're very fortunate to get some wins these last couple of outings and a lot of that is because of him."
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