New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils
Isles ended scoring drought, scoring three goals against Flyers on Wednesday night, hope to continue that streak
Friday, 11.25.2011 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
|Team Record: 5-10-4
Last Game: 4-3 OTL vs. PHI
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 6
|Team Record: 11-8-1
Last Game: 2-1 SOW vs. CBJ
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 6
Until Wednesday night, Okposo was having difficulty finding his game and producing offensively, and Head Coach Jack Capuano scratched him in three games. Against the Flyers on Wednesday night, his second game back in the lineup, the Isles forward proved that he had found his game as he scored two goals, had an assist and created even more opportunities that he wasn't rewarded for. Not only did Okposo feel the difference in his game, his teammates took notice.
"It was great to see," Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro said. "He’s really worked hard over the last week. Throughout the whole season he’s worked hard, but that’s a tough situation to be put in and he handled it like a true professional. He finally got rewarded for it tonight."
After 15 years in the league, the last five with the Devils, Zubrus played in his 1000th NHL game last week. In that game, he scored his 194th NHL goal, just six from reaching another major career milestone.
Age hasn't stopped the 33-year-old, who averages 19:28 of ice time per night on the Devils second line. His three goals in three games have helped him pass young star Zach Parise in the standings by one goal as his 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) are second on the team behind his linemate Patrik Elias who holds the team lead with 8 goals and 12 assists for 20 points.
Keep an eye on Zubrus as he looks to extend his three-game streak.
One of Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano's biggest critiques of his team in recent weeks has been that the team's fire and passion hasn't been present when it counts most, when a win gives a team two points in the standings.
After two difficult shutout losses that could have severely hurt team morale at a time when they were feeling down, the Islanders did what Capuano has been asking them to do, and battled back with a strong performance on Wednesday night in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders may have only walked away with one point, but it was a step in the right direction.
"I want to see the same effort from our guys," Capuano said. "We talked about being invested in yourself emotionally, physically and holding together as a group. I thought we did that from the start of the game until the end of the game. I thought we were pretty good in a lot of areas tonight. Again, as hard as we worked, we still came up on the short end of the stick."
He added, "Hopefully we can build off this one."
Yes, the Isles played better, showeds that fire that Capuano knew was missing, but Islanders Alternate Captain John Tavares still wants to see more from himself and his teammates.
"We had some chances to close and we didn’t close," Tavares said about the Flyers' come-from-behind win.
At least for one game, the New York Islanders proved they are capable of scoring.
Getting quality goaltending, however, remains an issue for the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders look to record just their second win in nine games Friday afternoon when they host the New Jersey Devils in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Though it's rare for a team to open a season with three goaltenders, the Islanders (5-10-4) were fortunate they had that depth when Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya both went down with injuries recently. That left Rick DiPietro as the starter but the often-injured veteran has struggled, going 2-2-3 with a 3.44 goals-against average - among the worst marks in the league. (Continue Reading)
The Islanders and Devils last met on March 30, 2011, with the Devils taking a 3-2 win. Goals from Ilya Kovalchuk and Jacob Josefson sent the Devils ahead 2-0, until Frans Nielsen recorded back-to-back goals in the third period – the first being shorthanded. With an even score, Andy Greene scored the game-winning goal with under 5 minutes to go in regulation. Rick DiPietro made 17 saves.
|- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 19 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Evgeni Nabokov - Groin (11/17) - 3 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Mark Eaton - Knee (11/21) - 1 games missed (6 weeks)
IslandersPower Play %: 15.9%
Penalty Kill %: 80.0%
Home Record: 5-5-2
Road Record: 0-5-2
Goals For: 38
Goals Against: 65
DevilsPower Play %: 12.3%
Penalty Kill %: 93.8%
Home Record: 5-3-1
Road Record: 6-5-0
Goals For: 54
Goals Against: 55
(Answer from 11/23: Zigmund Palffy. Palffy’s three goals on Jan. 28, 1998 was his only hat-trick against the Flyers.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Al Montoya returns to the crease, Rick DiPietro backs up. Nino Niederreiter and Marty Reasoner are healthy scratches.
Devils (Expected) LineupsForwards: Parise-Henrique-Kovalchuk, Sykora-Elias-Zubrus, Palmieri-Carter-Clarkson, Tedenby-Sestito-Janssen
Defensemen: Greene-Larsson, Tallinder-Fayne, Salvador-Volchenkov
Goaltenders: Brodeur, Hedberg
Expected Scratches: Zajac, Josefson, Boulton
Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro on 4-3 overtime loss to Flyers: "I think we worked hard. I think that’s what it’s going to take on a consistent basis to compete at this level, that kind of work ethic, but I still think there’s room for improvement. The first period and we started to get away from things in the second and third, but for the most part it was one of our most solid performances over the last couple weeks."
Cory Wright contributed to this report