Isles Close Out Series with New Jersey, Lose 3-1
The New York Islanders played a tight defensive contest, but were unable to collect any points against the New Jersey Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk scored an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play in the third period and the Isles were sent to their third straight loss following three consecutive victories. New York played much better than they did on Saturday and Sunday against the Bruins and Senators, but it was not enough to earn two points against the playoff-bound Devils. (BridgetDS/Flickr)
The start of the game might have been all too familiar for the New York Islanders as Patrick Elias scored his 26th goal of the season just 1:18 into the first period. However, Matt Moulson responded for the Islanders a little over two and a half minutes later as he went five-hole on Johan Hedberg and scored his 35th goal of the season. The first period did not feature any more scoring and both teams went into the locker-room with the road team having an 8-6 shots on goal advantage. However, a penalty taken by Marty Reasoner at the end of the first period came back to bite the Islanders when they returned from the intermission.
Travis Zajac made sure that the Devils capitalized on their power-play opportunity at the start of the second period as he potted his second goal of the season just 22 seconds into the middle frame. New Jersey played a disciplined game as the Isles were not given an opportunity with the man-advantage. Both teams had twenty shots on goal, but Johan Hedberg once again proved to be the difference as he registered his third win of the season against the Islanders.
Al Montoya had a formidable start for the Islanders as he stopped 17 of 19 shots, but the Big Cubano wound up on the short end of the stick once again. Montoya had started two straight games against the Devils on November 25th and 26th, but much like the game on the 25th, Montoya was just one notch below Hedberg. The Islanders were once again burned by early scores, but the goal in the second period held a little bit more ground because it was scored on a power-play. However, the Isles couldn't solve Hedberg as the team played its second to last road game.
The Islanders definitely competed with the Devils, but Johan Hedberg seems to have the Isles' number this season as he picked up half of the victories in the season series. Hedberg registered 3 wins against the Isles as the Devils went 4-2-0 against their Atlantic Division rivals. With only two games left on the season's schedule, the Islanders will look to pick up wins against non-playoff contenders such as Columbus and Winnipeg. If the Isles can play a solid 60 minutes of hockey in both of those contests, they can come out with wins and finish one game under .500. While finishing below .500 is far from an accomplishment, it would be the best mark that the Isles have finished a season since 2009-2010 when the Isles finished at 34-37-11 under Scott Gordon.
Milan Jurcina, Steve Staios, Evgeni Nabokov, and Casey Cizikas were all scratched from the Islanders lineup for the game. Zajac's goal was his second in only 13 games played this season.