Despite rebounding from a flat first period with strong efforts in the second and third periods, the Islanders fell to their division rivals the New Jersey Devils 5-2 at Nassau Coliseum on Monday afternoon.
“I thought in the second and third period we played much better than in the first period,” interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “We had a slow start, and you can’t give a team a couple goal lead like that, they’re pretty solid defensively.”
Even though Capuano said the team played better, the Islanders know that isn’t enough to come out with a win.
“It’s really important (to have a good start),” Islanders forward PA Parenteau said. “Last game we got a good start but for four or five games before that we didn’t come out hard enough and I think that has been a part of our problem lately. We have to fix that because that is too important in this league; you need a good start and you need to figure it out quickly.”
Martin Brodeur #30 and Andy Greene #6 of the New Jersey Devils keep an eye on the loose puck with Matt Moulson #26 of the New York Islanders on January 17, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Devils defeat the Islanders 5-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
After allowing a two goal lead just 5:22 into the first period, Islanders fourth liners Zenon Konopka and Matt Martin dropped the gloves, at 8:57 and 16:39 respectively, to try and change the momentum and halfway through the second period, the tide seemed to turn. Parenteau and Michael Grabner scored just 54 seconds apart to close the devils lead 3-2.
“We were obviously making a charge to come back,” Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “They had two goals to come back and we scored that one (that was not counted). It’s a bit deflating, but at the same time we can’t let that phase us and we have to just keep going with it.”
The Devils scored two quick goals to reestablish a three-goal lead, but it wasn’t enough to knock the Islanders off their momentum. They were still battling for the puck and trying to change the outcome of the game, causing the Devils players to get a little chippy.
With 1:29 remaining in the second period, Parenteau thought he scored his second goal of the game, but after a long debate, the referees disallowed the goal because they deemed Grabner interfered with Martin Brodeur, keeping the score at what would ultimately be the final margin, 5-2.
“I went to the net,” Grabner said. “I had the puck on my stick and then I got a push from behind. I collided with the goalie, and the ref next to the goal said it was a goal. He had the best view, but I don’t know who made the call that it was not a goal.”
The replay shown on the scoreboard clearly showed, Devils defenseman Mark Fayne initially interfered with Grabner, which caused him to slide into Brodeur, knocking his mask off in the process.
“It’s unfortunate because we were working very hard and I think we had a lot of good legs and a lot of good things going after the two goals we scored, but it is what it is and we have to move on,” Parenteau said.
Henrik Tallinder #7 of the New Jersey Devils and PA Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders skate for position on a loose puck during the game at the Nassau Coliseum on January 17, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Parenteau added, “I didn’t talk to (Bill) McCreary (the referee), I think Z (Konopka) did. I think he just said that he’s trying to make the game as fair a possible. He thought Brodeur got pushed by Grabner, but you can see on the replay that he definitely got pushed by the Devil player (Fayne).”
In the first period, Vladimir Zharkov scored his first NHL goal at 4:25 and Ilya Kovalchuk scored a power play goal just 57 seconds later, bringing the Devils ahead 2-0. Behind two goals, the Islanders started the second period a bit flat, allowing Mattias Tedenby to increase the Devils goal differential to 3-0. While the Isles closed the gap 3-2, Rod Pelley and Dainius Zubrus scored 54 seconds apart to reestablish the three-goal lead and bring the Devils ahead 5-2.