STOP AND GO
The Islanders took the Coliseum ice against Washington Saturday, shooting to end a six-game slide that followed the team into April. They did just that thanks to a four-point night from Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro's first shutout of the season.
The Isles got on the board first when Rico Fata was sent to the penalty box for goaltender interference at the 2:20 mark of the first period. Rob Nilsson got the play started, leading Jason Blake into the Caps' zone with a chip pass. Carrying the puck deep, Blake flipped it to Yashin in the slot, who fired it past Washington netminder Brent Johnson's glove hand.
Another powerplay meant another goal for the Islanders, as Trent Hunter struck on a 6-on-4 situation. With a delayed penalty in effect, Radek Martinek found Hunter along the boards in the Caps' zone, and set up a wicked one-timer that beat Johnson to his stick-side. With the resulting man-advantage, Yashin carried the puck directly at Johnson and tucked it under the crossbar, over his glove, to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead.
Both teams got their chances on the powerplay in the second period, but neither team could turn the advantage into a goal. At even strength though, the Islanders increased their lead to four goals, as Yashin repaid a favor to Blake, setting up his 26th tally of the season. At the Capitals' blueline, Yashin tossed a feed to Blake, who had trouble controlling the bouncing biscuit, but got a handle at the last second and slipped it past Johnson's stick.
The Isles cashed in on a sixth powerplay to start the third period, as Rob Nilsson picked up his fifth goal of the season. Yashin got the puck to front of the Caps' net, where Johnson and Blake both dove for it. Blake made contact first though, pushing it to Nilsson behind the net for a wrap-around that beat the Washington goalie.
OFF THE ICE: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Rick DiPietro, 2. Alexei Yashin, 3. Jason Blake... Before the game, Kevin Colley was awarded the Bob Nystrom Trophy for the 2005-06 season, by Nystrom himself and former Islander Steve Webb. Fans voted for Colley as the Islander who best exemplifies work ethic, leadership and dedication... For the Islanders, Eric Godard (head), Petteri Nokelainen (knee), Joel Bouchard (knee), Arron Asham (ankle) and Alexei Zhitnik (ankle) sat out, while the Caps scratched Ben Clymer (healthy) and Brian Sutherby (healthy)... All-time, the Isles and Capitals are knotted 75-75-13-1... New York took the four-game season series with Washington, winning twice at home and once on the road.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Rick DiPietro on the team's effort in front of him:
"I told the guys I thought we played hard tonight. We could have tanked it out there after losing six. We continued to work hard and bounced back. We had the puck in the offensive zone quite a bit. (Wyatt) Smith's line did a hell of a job against the Ovechkin line. Every time I got in trouble they were there to clear the net."
Head coach Braw Shaw on getting the offense to finish better:
"I thought we took the puck to the net real well and had a lot of traffic. We've had a lot of chances lately, 5-on-5 and on the power play, and we haven't put it in the net. Trent Hunter's shot was a perfect example. He just wound up and shot it with intent to score and it found its way into the net."
On defending against talented rookie Alexander Ovechkin:
"They double shifted Ovechkin, so it was tougher to get that match up (against Smith) as much as we'd like. I thought (Jeremy) Colliton's line did a good job out there too. I thought our defense was great. It's a young defense corps games-wise, and we're getting some invaluable experience. When you can get an early lead, it takes some of the pressure off those guys."
On DiPietro getting his first shutout of the year:
"It's great to get that sort of monkey off your back. As a goalie, you always like to have at least one of those a year. It would be nice if he can string a couple together to take the heat off us. It's well deserved and we're all happy for him."
On the health of Sean Bergenheim:
"It looks like it's a Charlie horse. We have to see in the morning the severity of it. I think we're fortunate that it didn't involve the knee."
(55) Jason Blake-(79) Alexei Yashin-(21) Rob Nilsson
(7) Trent Hunter-(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(10) Sean Bergenheim-(28) Wyatt Smith-(17) Shawn Bates
(15) Jeff Tambellini-(27) Jeremy Colliton-(48) Steve Regier
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(38) Allan Rourke-(6) Bruno Gervais
(3) Denis Grebeshkov-(44) John Erskine
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(17) Chris Clark-(8) Alex Ovechkin-(9) Dainius Zubrus
(21) Brooks Laich-(20) Rico Fata-(10) Matt Bradley
(18) Matt Pettinger-(11) Jeff Halpern-(24) Brian Willsie
(28) Kris Beech-(47) Bryan Muir-(50) Eric Fehr
(23) Ivan Majesky-(26) Shaone Morrisonn
(6) Jamie Heward-(44) Steve Eminger
(40) Nolan Yonkman-(34) Mathieu Biron
(1) Brent Johnson
(37) Olie Kolzig