Big first period leads Islanders over Blues

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By Doug Mitler

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- A spirited first period by the

New York Islanders gave coach Scott Gordon his first NHL win.

Trent Hunter and Sean Bergenheim scored 93 seconds apart in the

first period and Joey MacDonald stopped 24 shots as the

Islanders won their fifth straight home opener with a 5-2

victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Mike Comrie and Andy Hilbert also scored in the opening session

for the Islanders, who managed just one goal in a season-opening

2-1 loss at New Jersey on Friday. One night later, New York

easily controlled the early play, outshooting St. Louis, 15-6,

and taking a 4-1 lead after the first 20 minutes.

"The guys just jumped right into (Gordon's) system," said

Islanders right wing Bill Guerin, who capped the strong showing

with an empty-net goal. "The system he's implemented is

something we believe in and something we feel we can win with."

The eventful opening period included a power-play goal by Hunter

and a shorthanded tally by Hilbert.

All of the goals came against backup goalie Chris Mason, who

made his debut for the Blues after spending the first six

seasons of his career with the Nashville Predators.

"We just kind of came out flat footed," Mason said. "We just

got outplayed in the first period. I would have liked to have

every one of those goals back. I don't think we were ready for

what they threw at us."

It was a night to savor for Gordon, who coached the last six

seasons for the Boston Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence.

"Our guys played with more urgency. Being relentless, not

letting them off the hook," Gordon said. "Billy (Guerin) gave

me that game puck and said, 'I hope there are many more to

follow.'"

The 45-year-old did not take over as coach until mid-August,

when the Islanders parted ways with Ted Nolan.

"I played for him in Providence," Hilbert said. "He worked hard

to get where he's at."

MacDonald started in goal for New York for the second straight

night in place of All-Star Rick DiPietro, who underwent hip and

knee surgeries in the offseason. MacDonald took advantage of

the early cushion, earning his first NHL win since March 27,

2007, when he was a member of the Bruins.

"I'm going to take every game like I'm playing," MacDonald said.

"If that's the case, then I'll be ready."

Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk scored for the Blues, who defeated

the Predators, 5-2, in their season opener on Friday.

Tkachuk was stopped on a breakaway by MacDonald in the second

period but collected his third goal of the season midway through

the third, putting home the rebound of a shot by Paul Kariya

with the man advantage to make it 4-2. But that was as close as

the Blues would get.

"When you lose, there aren't many positives. There is no such

thing as the old college try," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said.

Comrie gave the Islanders the lead 2:18 into the contest,

burying the rebound of Richard Park's shot.

With Blues defenseman Barret Jackman off for interference,

Hunter gave the Islanders a 2-0 advantage when his slap shot

from inside the blue line trickled between the legs of Mason and

into the net. Bergenheim gave New York a three-goal cushion 93

seconds later with a wrist shot from between the circles that

went off Mason's pad and in.

Boyes cut the deficit to 3-1 with his first goal of the season,

but Hilbert made it 4-1, converting a pass from blue-liner Mark

Streit with 46 seconds left in the first.

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