POWER OUTAGE STOPS ISLANDERS
By Kerry Gwydir and Francis Rizzo III
31 saves couldn't get Rick DiPietro a win, as the Islanders were unable to capitalize on any of their 11 powerplay chances and fell to the Rangers, 3-1.
The Rangers pressed right off the bat as the Jaromir Jagr line pressured DiPietro right off the bat with a pair of in-tight chances in the first minute. The pressure led the Alexei Zhitnik being whistled off inside the 1:30 mark. The Isles killed off 1:52 of that infraction, but it led to Janne Niinimaa being whistled off for a hooking penalty.
As the first penalty wound down and Zhitnik exiting the sin bin, the Isles wound up with a 3-on-1 when Tom Poti was caught up ice. Oleg Kvasha chose to rip a slapper when he crossed over the blueline, but missed the bottom of the net. Steve Stirling's team followed that up by extinguishing the second man-down threat. But, the undisciplined hockey continued for the Isles soon thereafter.
Brad Lukowich's holding the stick penalty turned into a Rangers' goal with 6:38 left in the first. Martin Straka was left untouched in the high slot and snapped home Jaromir Jagr's centering pass.
Penalty troubles continued for Stirling's team when Lukowich was sent off for high-sticking on the next shift. Though the Isles stopped that chance, Fedor Tyutin made it a 2-0 game as Lukowich left the box with 3:33 left in the first. The defenseman jammed home the rebound after DiPietro had to dive across and block off Jagr's initial blast.
The second period didn't provide much of a boost for the Isles, who could not convert on a 5-on-3 to start the middle stanza. In fact, the most excitement for the majority of the period came when Trent Hunter dove across the crease to deny Poti of a goal during a goal-mouth scramble with 7:35 to go. Video replay confirmed the officials' call on the ice.
On the next shift, the Rangers' Fedor Fedorov was shipped to the box for hooking Miroslav Satan. Yet, the best scoring chance came when Jason Ward stripped Kvasha at the Rangers' blueline, and then raced down the ice on a breakaway. Kvasha managed to trail the Blueshirts' forward and distract him enough so that he missed on his backhander.
The Islanders' eighth chance on the powerplay, thanks to a high-stick to Satan, came just after the start of the third period. Despite a pair of long-range chances by Alexei Yashin, the Islanders couldn't change the scoreboard. The ninth man-up opportunity didn't help either, but with 12 men on the ice, the Islanders were finally able to break through.
As his linemates made a change on the fly, Jason Blake carried the puck into the Rangers' zone, putting the defense on its heels. A blocked shot by Blake ended up on Arron Asham's stick for a quick ride to the net, leaving a juicy rebound in the slot. Jumping up, Chris Campoli fired home his second goal of the season and pulled the Islanders within one.
Increased pressure by the Islanders with 8 minutes remaining drew a 10th and 11th powerplay for the visitors, but once again there would be no man-up goal for the Islanders. The pace of play increased dramatically, with the two teams trading chances, but Henrik Lundqvist stood solid in net, and blanked the Isles for the remainder of the third. Pulling DiPietro, the Islanders tried for the tie, but it was Blair Betts who would score, depositing the puck into the open net to ensure the win for the Rangers.
Prior to the game, forward Kevin Colley was recalled from the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. He took the place of rookie Petteri Nokelainen in the lineup, who took the pre-game skate, but was held out with a mild ankle sprain. Nokelainen is listed as day-to-day.
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(29) Petteri Nokelainen-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(62) Kevin Colley-(21) Robert Nilsson-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(24) Radek Martinek
(25) Brad Lukowich-(14) Chris Campoli
(44) Janne Niinimaa-(8) Tomi Pettinen
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(82) Martin Straka-(92) Michal Nylander-(68) Jarmoir Jagr
(26) Martin Rucinsky-(20) Steve Rucchin-(17) Fedor Fedorov
(15) Jeff Taffe-(19) Blair Betts-(14) Jason Ward
(10) Ville Nieminen-(18) Dominic Ward-(41) Jed Ortmeyer
(6) Darius Kasparaitis-(55) Fedor Tyutin
(34) Jason Strudwick-(18) Tom Poti
(8) Marek Malik-(3) Michal Rozsival
(30) Henrik Lundqvist
(80) Kevin Weekes