Islanders Fall in Heart-Breaker to Devils
With 14 games left on their respective schedules, the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils each came into Saturday night determined to take 2 points away from the matchup. While the Isles' playoff hopes became a bit more bleak with a 5-1 loss to the Devils on Thursday night, the two teams came out with their skating legs in the opening frame. The Islanders held a 9 to 6 shots on goal advantage in the first period and had a quality penalty kill, but the two teams went scoreless through the first twenty minutes. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Johan Hedberg was the difference through two periods as he made several sterling saves on Matt Moulson, John Tavares, and Michael Haley. On the other side of the ice, Anders Nilsson also stood tall as the Devils peppered him with 15 shots in the middle frame, but the big Swede was aided by his best friend (the goal post) once again. Much like the first period, the Devils and Islanders both had to deploy their PK units during the second period, but neither team managed to score a goal with the man-advantage.
The third period started out with the Devils on their third power-play of the night, but Anders Nilsson was the Islanders' best penalty killer as he made a couple of key saves to keep the contest scoreless. The Isles' hard work paid off a little under 7 minutes into the third period as John Tavares potted his 27th goal of the season over the right shoulder of Johan Hedberg, courtesy of a good setup by Matt Moulson. The New Jersey Devils put the pressure on the New York Islanders after Tavares' tally and eventually broke through on David Clarkson's 28th goal of the season with under two minutes left in the game.
Moments later, P.A Parenteau took a costly penalty for the Islanders and the Devils cashed in on the gaffe as Marek Zidlicky potted his first goal of the season, and as a Devil. A mere 14 seconds elapsed between Clarkson's tying goal and Zidlicky's game winner as the New Jersey Devils stunned the Islanders after a solid overall effort from the home team. Even though the Islanders suffered a heart-wrenching loss, they have less than 24 hours to regroup and bring the same type of effort against their cross-town rival New York Rangers.
The New York Islanders played well enough to win two of the three games against the Devils, but New Jersey simply refused to come out of the finale short-handed. Anders Nilsson played a tremendous game in goal for the Islanders, but the Devils peppered the Swedish netminder in the second and third period as they threw 29 shots his way. In the end, the Islanders were outshot by 11 shots for the game, but Johan Hedberg deserves a lot of credit for keeping his head in the game despite the fact that the goalie at the other end of the ice had played over 136 minutes of goalless hockey.
The Islanders will have a bitter pill to swallow when dealing with this most recent loss, but there is no time to cry over spilled milk as the team must come out with a strong mindset against the Atlantic Division leading Rangers. Even if the team's playoff chances have taken a severe shot, the team cannot afford to mire themselves in a long losing streak to close out the season. Jack Capuano seemed calm and collected during the post-game conference, but the head coach must do something to fire his team up for tomorrow night's rivalry matchup.
The Devils won their third straight game while the Isles lost their second straight. The New York Islanders were strong in the faceoff circle as they won 31 faceoffs to New Jersey's 16, but the road team still managed to outshoot the Isles 35-24.