ECQF GAME 4 PREVIEW
(7:30 p.m. ET, TV: FSN NY, VERSUS, TSN | Radio: Bloomberg 1130 | SEASON TICKET HOLDERS PLEASE USE TICKET MARKED 'HOME PLAYOFF GAME B') The Islanders look to even the series at two against the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the Nassau Coliseum in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
After failing to come up with the equalizer in the third period, the Islanders dropped Game 3 by the score of 3-2 to fall behind 2-1 in the series.
The start of Game 3 on Monday started out similarly to Game 2, with the Islanders out-playing the Buffalo Sabres that were back on their heels. Unlike in Game 2, the Islanders couldn't get a puck past Ryan Miller in the first period after out-shooting the Sabres 10-9.
In the second period, the floodgates opened as five goals were scored - three for Buffalo and two for the Islanders. The Sabres took a 2-0 lead on goals by Adam Mair and Thomas Vanek.
But the Islanders' resilience, which they've shown all year, got them back within one when Trent Hunter jammed home a Ryan Smyth rebound for his second goal in two games.
Buffalo took advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity to score their third goal, and the eventual game-winner. Daniel Briere attempted a centering pass through the crease from the side of the net, but it was blocked. Briere recovered the puck and roofed it for his third point (1g, 2a) in these playoffs.
The Islanders regained the momentum on Smyth's goal with eight seconds left in the second period. Randy Robitaille busted down the left-wing side and threw the puck out in front to Smyth, who one-timed it past Miller.
The Islanders couldn't continue the momentum into the third period, generating little offense, while being out-shot 17-2. Two late penalties on Richard Zednik and Randy Robitaille hurt the Islanders' chances for a late-game comeback.
Miller picked up the win with 20 saves, while Rick DiPietro stopped 32 of 35 shots.
The Islanders failed to score on four power-play chances, and have only one power-play goal in 11 opportunities in the series. In practice yesterday, the Islanders spent a majority of the time working on the power play. One unit consisted of Smyth, Mike Sillinger and Viktor Kozlov, with Marc-Andre Bergeron and Tom Poti at the points. The other unit featured Satan/Robitaille, Hunter and Jason Blake, with Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli at the points.
In order to spark some offense in the third period, Ted Nolan did some line juggling. Alexei Yashin was seen on a number of lines in the game, including the Miroslav Satan-Kozlov line, the Blake-Robitaille line and the Andy Hilbert-Richard Park line.
While the Islanders may not have won Game 3, they did dominate in the faceoff department, winning 65% of the draws. Sillinger led the way, winning 86% of his faceoffs. Many of those came against Chris Drury, who tied Sillinger during the regular season with a 58.8 winning percentage. In the playoffs, Sillinger has won 68.5% of his draws, while Drury has won only 44.9%.
A key stat for the first three games is that the team that has scored first has won all three games.
Chris King and Steve Mears have the call on Bloomberg Radio 1130, while Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe can be seen tonight on FSN NY. You can catch John Forslund and Eddie Olczyk on VERSUS, and for those up in Canada watching on TSN, you'll see the tandem of Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire.
For those of you not in the New York area, you can catch King and Mears' Bloomberg Radio broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, channel 207.
BELOW ARE CHANNEL LISTINGS FOR FSN NY ON LONG ISLAND
FSN NY: 72
FSN NY: 624
FSN NY: 413
FSN NY: 725
FSN NY: 69
A PLAYOFF HIT
Trent Hunter and Sean Hill continue to rank atop the NHL in hits, even in the playoffs. Hunter is second in the league with 17 hits in three games, while Sean Hill is in a close third with 15. Gary Roberts of the Pittsburgh Penguins leads the league with 21 hits, but has done so in four games. The duo finished the 2006-07 regular season with Hill finishing third with 252 hits and Hunter finishing fifth with 246 hits.
The Islanders have two members of the team who have once been a part of the Sabres' organization. They are: Ted Nolan (head coach: 1995-96 - 1996-97), Miroslav Satan (1996-07 - 2003-04). On the Sabres' side, they have two members of their organization who once were a member of the Islanders. They are: Darcy Regier (player: 1982-83 - 1983-84; director of hockey administration: 1985-86 - 1889-90; assistant coach: 1989-90 - 1990-91; assistant GM: 1992-93 - 1996-97; director of player personnel: 1994-95 - 1995-96) and Tim Connolly (1999-00 - 2000-01). Connolly was the Islanders first round draft selection (fifth overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
Islanders - Trent Hunter, 2 goals; Tom Poti & Randy Robitaille, 2 assists; Poti, Hunter, Robitaille, Ryan Smyth, 2 points; Richard Zednik, Robitaille, Brendan Witt, 6 PIM
Buffalo - Chris Drury & Brian Campbell, 2 goals; Dainius Zubrus, 4 assists; Zubrus, 4 points; Adam Mair, Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht, Maxim Afinogenov, 4 PIM.
Islanders - Power play: 9.1 percent. Penalty killing: 82.4 percent
Buffalo - Power play: 17.6 percent. Penalty killing: 90.9 percent.
Islanders - Rick DiPietro (1-1, 2.52 GAA, .928 SV%); Wade Dubielewicz (0-1, 4.07, .886)
Buffalo - Ryan Miller (2-1, 2.01, .920)
Islanders - 92 points, 4th place, Atlantic Division
Buffalo - 113 points, 1st place, Northeast Division
Islanders - Jason Blake, 40 goals, 69 points; Tom Poti, 38 assists; Brendan Witt, 131 PIM
Buffalo - Thomas Vanek, 43 goals; Daniel Briere, 63 assists, 95 points; Adam Mair, 128 PIM.
Islanders - Power play: 18.1 percent. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent
Buffalo - Power play: 17.4 percent. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent.
Islanders - Rick DiPietro (32-19-9, 2.58 GAA, .919 SV%); Wade Dubielewicz (4-1-0, 2.06 GAA, .934 SV%); Mike Dunham (4-10-3, 3.74, .889)
Buffalo - Ryan Miller (40-16-6, 2.73, .911); Ty Conklin (3-5-2, 3.34, .879)
2006-07 SEASON SERIES:
Islanders - 22-13-6 at home
Buffalo - 25-12-4 on the road
34 Wade Dubielewicz
39 Rick DiPietro
3 Tom Poti
6 Sean Hill
8 Bruno Gervais
14 Chris Campoli
32 Brendan Witt
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park
11 Andy Hilbert
15 Jeff Tambellini
18 Mike Sillinger
20 Richard Zednik
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
55 Jason Blake
79 Alexei Yashin
81 Miroslav Satan
94 Ryan Smyth
30 Ryan Miller
35 Ty Conklin
5 Toni Lydman
6 Jaroslav Spacek
10 Henrik Tallinder
27 Teppo Numminen
38 Nathan Paetsch
45 Dmitri Kalinin
51 Brian Campbell
9 Derek Roy
12 Ales Kotalik
15 Dainius Zubrus
19 Tim Connolly
20 Daniel Paille
21 Drew Stafford
22 Adam Mair
23 Chris Drury
26 Thomas Vanek
29 Jason Pominville
48 Daniel Briere
55 Jochen Hecht
61 Maxim Afinogenov
76 Andrew Peters