Judging by his NHL debut, the New York Islanders made the right move in making Roberto Luongo the highest drafted goalie in NHL history.
Luongo, the Islanders' first pick and fourth overall in 1997, stopped 43 shots to lead the Islanders past the red-hot Boston Bruins 2-1 on Sunday night.
"This is hopefully a huge step for me," said Luongo. "I've waited my whole life for this."
Luongo, 20, made 31 saves in the first two periods, allowing only Anson Carter's goal 6:02 into the second.
He was barely tested in the final period, but survived a scramble in front when he was sprawled on his back without his stick in the closing seconds.
"I totally lost control of the puck," he said. "I was doing a Dominic Hasek impersonation out there. I was a little lucky it hit me in the shoulder."
Jorgen Jonsson and Zdeno Chara scored for New York, which entered the game with the league's third-worst record. It was just Boston's third loss in its last 17 games (11-3-3).
"I think it gives everybody a whole lot of confidence in the goaltender," Islanders coach Butch Goring said. "He believes in his heart that he can play, but until you go out there and show you can do it."
Boston pulled goalie Byron Dafoe with 61 seconds left and had Luongo down, but failed to get control of the puck.
"We had a lot of chances, but we ust didn't get any golden opportunities," Bruins coach Pat Burns said.
Dafoe felt his teammates didn't get enough rebounds against the rookie netminder.
"They did a good job in front of their net," Dafoe said. "We didn't have many second chances."
Chara, a 6-foot-9 defenseman, made a strong individual play to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead with 55 seconds left in the second period. He circled Boston's net in one direction before turning around, coming back the other way and slipping a backhander between Dafoe's pads.
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead when Jonsson redirected Jamie Heward's pass by Dafoe from the top of the crease.
Boston, which outshot New York 17-6 in the second period, tied the game at 1 when Carter slipped a short wrist shot inside the far post by Luongo after taking a feed from Jason Allison.
Luongo's best stop of the opening two periods came when he dropped to make a pad save of Carter at the end of a 2-on-1 break midway into the opening period.
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