Isles Fall To Devils 2-1 In Home Opener

 

The New York Islanders opened their abbreviated 48-game season tonight with a 2-1 regulation loss at home to the defending Eastern Conference champs, the New Jersey Devils.

A sold out crowd was introduced to the 2012-2013 roster before puck drop. However, head coach Jack Capuano was missing, forcing assistant coach Doug Weight to take over along with Brent Thompson. Capuano missed the game due to a medical reason that was not disclosed to the media. It had been mentioned in the locker room that it is not life threatening, and that an update will likely be provided tomorrow.

But for the Isles, playing without their head coach behind the bench might have thrown the team for a bit of loop by the time the first period was underway. The Isles provided a lot of sloppy play in their end of the ice which resulted in poorly executed break outs and many mistakes in the neutral zone.

Despite being outshot by an 8-3 margin, the Islanders went to the dressing room in a scoreless tie, primarily due to Evgeni Nabokov being on top of his game.

The Islanders had a stronger second period, especially towards the latter half despite going down 1-0 after Travis Zajac buried a beautiful pass from Ilya Kovalchuk. Yet for the Isles, offense was hard to find for the majority of the game.

In fact the Islanders did not get on the board until about midway through the third period when Travis Hamonic buried a power play goal with a quick wrist shot in the slot. Kyle Okposo was fighting along the boards to dig a loose puck free to Michael Grabner. The goal came easily over Martin Brodeur's glove with Hamonic untouched and alone in front of the Devils net.

"I think our work ethic was good. I think we did a lot of good things," said Hamonic after the game. "I think as a five man unit we didn't get to the hard areas enough at the start of the game. I think we left some chances on the table, unfortunately."

Hamonic had a chance to bury another power play goal late in the final frame, looking for the equalizer once again, but that time he was stopped by Brodeur's right pad.

The Devils managed to regain the one-goal lead almost as quickly as the Isles had tied it. David Clarkson scored his first of the season just 1:05 after Hamonic tied the game with a shot that looked to have been deflected or screened by defenseman Mark Streit. It was a tough goal for Nabokov to give up after how well he had been playing throughout the game. But it was all the Devils needed to assure themselves a win.

"Listen, we're not making any excuses in here this year," added Hamonic. "It's a tough loss. We battled hard against a good team and came up short.

"Like I said, it's not acceptable and it's not going to be accepted and I think as a team that's our philosophy this year. We expect a lot better."

Hamonic, who was visibly frustrated with himself for not tying the game a second time despite scoring the initial game tying goal, holds the same expectations for himself as well.

"It pisses me off," he said in regards to not being able to solve Brodeur for more than one goal. "And I think that's the attitude that we all have in here and that's the important thing.

"We were close, but not close enough."

The Isles will look to turn things around this Monday afternoon when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 1PM.

-Rob McGowan

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