Up Strong Start
By PETER BOTTE
Daily News Sports Writer
Steps back to respectability will come in small increments for the
Islanders. Even they understand that. But this step, this feat,
definitely rates as an important one.
Mike Milbury, Butch Goring and the Islanders talked all summer about
the need for a strong start to show their new owners and the rest of
the NHL their latest rebuilding phase finally must be taken
For the first time since they went 6-5-1 to start the 1992-93 season â"
the one that resulted in a magical run to the Stanley Cup
semifinals â" the Islanders posted a winning record in October, that
following last night's 4-2 victory over Mike Keenan's Bruins before
an announced crowd of 6,418 at the Coliseum.
"We talked about it (yesterday). If we can play every month at plus-
one or plus-two," Goring said, "we're going to make the playoffs."
OK, one step at a time. But after opening the season 0-3-1-0,
Goring's Isles (4-3-2-0) will carry a five-game unbeaten streak into
South Florida for tonight's match against Roberto Luongo and the
Panthers, their first streak of that length since Jan. 28-Feb. 4 of
the 1997-98 season (also 4-0-1).
"I haven't felt this good about this team in a long time," said
captain Kenny Jonsson, who is playing what Goring called his "best
two-way hockey in a couple of years."
John Vanbiesbrouck made 32 saves â" including stopping all 16 shots in
a scoreless first period â" and held on for his second straight win,
despite third-period goals by Sergei Samsonov and Joe Thornton.
"I don't think we brought our best effort, but when we messed up John
covered for us," said center Dave Scatchard, whose third of the
season at 14:57 of the second period also ended up his third game-
winner. "That's the sign of a top goalie and a good team."
Jonsson and Oleg Kvasha also scored second-period goals â" and Brad
Isbister added an empty netter â" for the Isles, who, incredibly,
haven't lost since Oct. 17 against Anaheim.
"You get on a roll like this, you start to believe in yourselves and
you can sleep a little better at night," Scatchard said. "It's just a
lot more fun when you look at the standings every day and you see
you're right in the hunt."
Harry Fodder? Islanders announcer Ed Westfall, a longtime confidant
of Bruins president/GM Harry Sinden, reported during last night's
Metro broadcast that Sinden could step down as GM and/or retire as
early as tomorrow and hand over day-to-day reins to longtime
assistant Mike O'Connell. ... Isles had expressed interest last month
in trading for Boston holdout F Anson Carter, although sources on
both sides have said a match is unlikely. Another player who figures
to interest Isles is Blackhawks LW Eric Daze, who's requested a
trade, according to reports from Chicago. The 6-5, 228-pound Daze has
averaged 26 goals over first five NHL seasons, although he quickly
landed in new Chicago coach Alpo Suhonen's doghouse after he went 1-0-
1 and minus-5 in first 10 games. Daze, who earns $2 million per, also
averages only 21 penalty minutes per year. ... Bruins fell to 1-6-0-1
in last seven, including 1-2-0-1 under Mike Keenan.