SHOOTOUT TO KILL
Two leads weren't enough for a regulation win for the Islanders Thursday, and overtime only left the teams tied. But goals by Miro Satan and Trent Hunter allowed the Islanders to finish the night with a 3-2 shootout win against the Devils.
After New Jersey failed to capitalize on an early penalty to Jason Blake, the two teams settled into a game of give and take. The crowd, who braved slushy roads, was eventually roused when John Erskine and Cam Janssen hooked up late in the first, tussling in a lengthy, methodical bout that ended without a victor.
The best chance of the period would come with 1:30 left, as Shawn Bates smacked at a loose puck in the crease, but it was whistled dead as Martin Brodeur battled for control. The Devils' Paul Martin took a penalty with just under 3 seconds left, setting up the Islanders with a powerplay to start the second period.
Though the Islanders couldn't take advantage of the powerplay they started the second period with, a third chance allowed them to take the first lead of the game. Accepting a pass along the Devils' blueline from Alexei Zhitnik, Brent Sopel put a fluttering wrist shot on net that ducked past Martin Brodeur, thanks in part to a screen by Trent Hunter.
The lead wouldn't last long through, as Scott Gomez tied things up just over a minute later. Pushing the puck to the point, Gomez set up a hard slapper by Sean Brown that hit Brian Gionta in front. The rebound fell to Rick DiPietro's left, where Gomez was waiting to knock it in for his 21st tally of the season.
Another powerplay opportunity gave the Isles a chance to pull ahead again, as Jason Blake got things started and finished it off. Taking a draw in the Devils' zone, Blake won the puck to Mark Parrish, who slid it back to Zhitnik at the point. In a replay of Gomez' goal, a hard slapshot by the defenseman hit New Jersey's Colin White in the slot and dropped to the ice. Blake pounced and one-timed it just inside the right post for his 22nd goal on the year.
For much of the first 10 minutes of the third period, the action looked more like the first period's. Then, a strong drive by Devil Brian Rafalski gave him the chance to set up a 2-2 tie. Skating past DiPietro's net, Rafalski dumped the puck back into the slot, where Jay Pandolfo was open for a shot that beat the netminder to the stick-side.
Overtime settled nothing, despite a great chance for Satan, created by Joel Bouchard's hard work in the offensive zone. In the shootout, Viktor Kozlov had the first attempt, but was stoned by DiPietro's blocker pad on an in-close wrister. Satan followed with a gorgeous deke that pulled Brodeur to the ice, opening up the net for a goal.
In the second round, John Madden tried a forehand to backhand switch, but found nothing but legpad. Hunter had better luck, putting a pure wrister on net that caught Brodeur's leg pad before skidding over the goal line for the win.
OFF THE ICE: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Miro Satan, 2. Rick DiPietro, 3. Trent Hunter... Before the game, Brent Sopel was named the H.L. Gross & Brothers Player of the Month for February... For the Islanders, Radek Martinek (leg), Eric Godard (viral infection), Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Jeremy Colliton (healthy) were scratched, while the Devils sat Patrik Elias (ribs), Darren Langdon (healthy) and Richard Matvichuk (healthy)... No one in tonight's game has played for the other team... All-time, the Islanders hold a dominant 94-54-22-3 lead over New Jersey... Entering the sixth game of an eight-game season series, the Isles are up 3-2, having won twice at the Continental, and once at home.
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(79) Alexei Yashin-(45) Arron Asham
(7) Trent Hunter-(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(21) Robert Nilsson-(28) Wyatt Smith-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(14) Chris Campoli-(44) John Erskine
(4) Joel Bouchard-(25) Brad Lukowich
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(22) Viktor Kozlov-(23) Scott Gomez-(14) Brian Gionta
(20) Jay Pandolfo-(11) John Madden-(15) Jamie Langenbrunner
(18) Sergei Brylin-(9) Zach Parise-(29) Grant Marshall
(19) Jason Ryznar-(10) Erik Rasmussen-(25) Cam Janssen
(8) Sean Brown-(28) Brian Rafalski
(5) Colin White-(7) Paul Martin
(2) David Hale-(6) Tommy Albelin
(30) Martin Brodeur
(40) Scott Clemmensen