NHL hockey returned to Connecticut Saturday night, albeit for just one evening, before an sellout crowd of 8,489—the largest hockey gate in the the 10-year history of the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. And while there were pockets of empty seats to the naked eye throughout the arena (the game was competing with Game One of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Tigers, after all), those that did show up were treated to an entertaining affair.
They were also treated to $15 parking—triple what they would normally expect to pay for parking at a Sound Tigers game. That led one to ask the question if the powers that be were more interested in making a quick killing and potentially turning future fans off, or growing the game of hockey in the Park City.
The answer, it seems, is obvious.
After the Islanders took a 2-0 lead in the second period, the Bruins came all the way back, capped by a game-winning tally by Dennis Seidenberg with 8:07 remaining in regulation to give Boston a 3-2 win. It was the final preseason game for both teams.
Tim Thomas played the full game and made 25 saves for Boston, including a slick stick stop of Frans Nielsen’s bad-angle shot during a late power play that could have tied the game.
Al Montoya, last seen in these parts tending net for the Hartford Wolf Pack, started the game for New York and was perfect in the first period. Then, after starting the second stanza, he was replaced by Evgeni Nabokov after turning aside all 14 shots he faced. Montoya and Nabokov were not trying out for jobs—both have the Islanders made. Rather, they are jockeying for playing time behind starter Rick DiPietro, one of the first stars produced by the Sound Tigers.
The Islanders built a 2-0 lead on goals by John Tavares and Marty Reasoner. Tavares, the Isles’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, scored during a 5-on-3 in the first period. Reasoner doubled the New York advantage early in the second.
After Nabokov replaced Montoya between the pipes, the Bruins got even when David Krejci and Tyler Seguin scored 86 seconds apart in the second period. Krejci beat Nabokov from the right circle at 12:22 on a 4-on-4, and Seguin took a pass in front from Brad Marchand at 13:48. For the game, Nabokov made 17 saves on 20 shots.
“Al [Montoya] made some good saves. I thought Nabby made some great saves,” said Islanders‘ head coach Jack Capuano, who knows this building quite well after having coached the Sound Tigers for four seasons. “Obviously, the second period was a period we didn’t play extremely well and he had to stand tall for us. (Boston had) a great shot inside the post and in and again, coverage on the 4-on-4, there was another good shot, so I thought both goaltenders played real well. They both gave us a chance to win the hockey game.”
The score remained tied until Seidenberg broke the deadlock a little more than halfway through the third perod.
“Every time you win, it’s a good way to end it, no matter whether it’s exhibition or regular season,” he said. “I guess we can build on this. We didn’t come out with the intensity we would have liked. We were a little sloppy.”
Boston begins its season on Thursday at home against Philadelphia when they will hoist the world championship banner to the rafters in the Boston Garden for the first time since 1972. The Islanders open at home next Saturday against Florida.
“I think everybody is ready to get going and play for real,” added Seidenberg.
The announced attendance was 8,489, the biggest crowd for a hockey game at the 10-year-old Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.
After the game, the Islanders announced that they were sending 18 players to Bridgeport to start the season.