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Dunham leads Islanders over Panthers

Nov 19, 2006 - 3:15 AM SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Mike Dunham took advantage of a rare opportunity.

Dunham made 43 saves in his first start in 12 days and Jason Blake and Alexei Yashin each had a goal and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Dunham entered with a 6-6-0-2 record and a 1.90 goals-against average in 14 career games against the Panthers.

"It was just one of those games where the puck was hitting me," Dunham said. "I got a little lucky there in the second when they hit the post after we scored to make it 2-1. I certainly felt at ease out there, felt comfortable and just played the game.

"They came hard and we knew they would. They threw a lot of pucks at the net and fortunately I got in the way of most of them."

Before the season, Dunham, who has played for New Jersey, Nashville, the New York Rangers and Atlanta, did not even know where he would play this season.

"Fortunately (Islanders GM) Garth (Snow) gave me an opportunity to come here," Dunham said. "I just needed a place to play. A spot opened up and coming back to the Northeast, which is more familiar. I had friends on the team before I got here. It's been a lot of fun. The guys have been great. As a new guy it has been easy to be just one of the guys and I think that goes a long way in feeling part of the team."

Islanders coach Ted Nolan, whose club has won two of its last three and is 3-0-1 on its five-game road trip, has confidence in Dunham.

"That takes a lot of pressure off Ricky (DiPietro) to know when we do give him a rest, it's not just a rest," Nolan said of utilizing Dunham occasionally. "We have a chance to win these hockey games, and Dunham has done a great job for us."

The Islanders took a 1-0 lead at 11:55 of the first period when Yashin one-timed a shot from the slot past Florida goaltender Ed Belfour.

After New York's Arron Asham scored at 14:19 of the second period when he lifted a rebound over Belfour, Blake netted an insurance goal when he redirected Yashin's pass by Belfour at 16:27 of the third.

Miroslav Satan scored the other goal for the Islanders, who went 0-for-1 on the power play.

Belfour finished with 28 saves for the Panthers, who got their only goal from Ville Peltonen.

"There's no time to enjoy my goal, because the result was not good tonight," said Peltonen, who scored at 2:26 of the second period to tie the game, 1-1.

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