ISLANDERS 5, NEW JERSEY 2
Ted Nolan said it would be a tight game against New Jersey, but the Islanders broke through the Devils' defensive style of play to win 5-2 at the Continental Airlines Arena Thursday night.
Backed by stifling defense and tallies from five different goal scorers, the Islanders (6-4-2) moved into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first in the Atlantic Division.
Before the scoring started, Arron Asham got things started with the Islanders' first fight of the season going toe-to-toe with Cam Janssen 2:47 into the first period.
Trent Hunter put the Devils up by one with a tricky toe-drag move by Colin White and then a wrister past Martin Brodeur for his second goal of the season at 8:00 of the first period. Mike York received the lone assist by intercepting the puck in the offensive zone and dishing it across to Hunter.
The Devils tied it up at one when rookie Travis Zajac picked up a puck in the slot and fired it home with 4:30 left in the first period.
Just 32 seconds later, Miroslav Satan gave the Islanders the lead again with his second goal of the season. Hunter was at it again when he threw the puck on goal before Satan picked up the rebound at the side of the net and flipped it over Brodeur on the backhand for a 2-1 Islanders lead with 3:58 remaining in the first period. York earned his second assist of the game on the play.
It was 3-1 Islanders with 9:50 left in the second period. Alexei Zhitnik ripped a low slapshot from the point that was tipped in front by a Devils stick for Zhitnik's first goal of the season. Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake picked up the assists.
The Islanders dodged a bullet when Brendan Witt was called for delay of game after shooting the puck out of the rink only five seconds after York was called for holding. The quartet of Mike Sillinger, Zhitnik, Tom Poti and Rick DiPietro did a marvelous job keeping the puck out of the net to preserve the 3-1 lead.
Viktor Kozlov then scored against his former team with 4:46 remaining in the second period. Yashin slid a perfect feed to Kozlov, who one-timed it past Brodeur for his fourth of the season and a 4-1 Islanders lead.
Zach Parise cut the Islanders lead to 4-2 when Jamie Langenbrunner fed a pass to Parise, who deflected it in with 1:14 left in the second period.
The Islanders retained their three goal lead with a 3-on-1 play down low on the power play 4:46 into the third period. Sillinger left it for Blake who then passed it to Yashin before receiving it back again for an easy tap-in on his seventh goal of the season.
Jason Blake: "Arron Asham's fight gave us a big boost. We were ready to play tonight, but his fight put a spark in the bench early on in the game."
Rick DiPietro: "The team did a great job tonight limiting New Jersey's scoring opportunities. After the opening faceoff I thought we played a hard, smart game. It was one of the better games we played all season."
Ted Nolan: "Confidence is an important thing to have in this league and this was a big confidence win for us tonight."
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Jason Blake: Team leading seventh of the season and two assists
2. Alexei Yashin: His third game with at least three points
3. Alexei Zhitnik: First goal of the season, strong on the penalty kill and +2
4. Trent Hunter: One goal and one assist
5. Zach Parise: One goal, one assist and +2
Stat of the Game: 16 shots on goal for New Jersey.
Slapshots: Viktor Kozlov played for the Devils during the 2005-06 season...The Islanders are now 100-54-22-3 all-time against the New Jersey/Colorado franchise...The Islanders are 5-0-1 in their last six games in New Jersey...The Islanders allowed less than 20 shots against for the first time this season...Arron Asham participated in the Islanders' first fight of the season going toe-to-toe with Cam Janssen 2:47 into the first period.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
6 Sean Hill - 77 Alexei Zhitnik
32 Brendan Witt - 24 Radek Martinek
8 Bruno Gervais - 3 Tom Poti
17 Shawn Bates - 18 Mike Sillinger - 10 Richard Park
55 Jason Blake - 79 Alexei Yashin - 25 Viktor Kozlov
7 Trent Hunter - 16 Mike York - 81 Miroslav Satan
12 Chris Simon - 11 Andy Hilbert - 45 Arron Asham
30 Martin Brodeur
40 Scott Clemmensen
5 Colin White - 7 Paul Martin
8 Alex Brooks - 6 Jim Fahey
29 Johnny Oduya - 28 Brian Rafalski
26 Patrik Elias - 23 Scott Gomez - 14 Brian Gionta
9 Zach Parise - 19 Travis Zajac - 15 Jamie Langenbrunner
20 Jay Pandolfo - 11 John Madden - 18 Sergei Brylin
10 Erik Rasmussen 12 Jim Dowd - 25 Cam Janssen