|All-Star goaltender Rick DiPietro made 37 saves as the New York Islanders improved to a perfect 5-0 against the New Jersey Devils this season with a 3-1 victory at the Prudential Center.
Watch DiPietro rob the Devils' Patrik Elias
The All-Star netminder made 37 saves — including several key stops in the third period — as the Isles improved to 5-0 against the New Jersey Devils this season with a 3-1 win at the Prudential Center.
''Tonight, Ricky saved us a couple of points,'' said Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who scored a pair of goals. ''I thought we played a solid game, but when they turned it up and got good scoring opportunities, Ricky was there. He saved at least four goals I can think over. He kept us in it. He's been doing it all year for us.''
Indeed he has, which is why No. 39 will be in Atlanta next weekend. His stellar play again left the Devils scratching their heads. The Devils are now winless in nine tries against the New York metropolitan area teams; they’re also 0-2-2 in four games with the New York Rangers.
''It doesn't take a rocket scientist, does it?'' Devils forward Patrik Elias said of the Isles’ success against New Jersey. ''They are playing well against us. Those are big points to lose. We had our opportunities to get back in the game, but it's still disappointing to lose. Their goaltender played awesome tonight.''
DiPietro had a shutout going until Travis Zajac redirected Brian Gionta’s shot from inside the left point and saw it trickle over the goal line ( 700K ). In total, DiPietro made 15 saves in the final 20 minutes, including a dazzling glove stop on Dainius Zubrus ( 700K ) with less than two minutes to play that preserved a 2-1 lead. Guerin made it 3-1 with an empty-net tally with a minute to go ( 700K ).
''We just seem to play well against them,'' said DiPietro, who has given up five goals in four games against New Jersey this season. ''You find if you play long enough, there are certain teams you play well against. The last couple of years, it has been the Devils.''
Guerin broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal at 15:09 of the first period ( 700K ). After defensemen Colin White and Mike Mottau were penalized simultaneously, giving the Isles a two-minute, two-man advantage — Guerin took a cross-crease pass from Mike Comrie and roofed a wrist shot over Martin Brodeur for his 16th goal of the season.
Mike Sillinger put New York up by a pair when he beat Brodeur 4:17 into the second period ( 700K ).
Trent Hunter made the play with a terrific pass from behind the net, and Sillinger put it past Brodeur to give the Isles a 2-0 lead.
The Devils’ netminder insisted afterwards that the Islanders aren’t in New Jersey’s heads.
“We don’t try to look at the team … it’s just how we play,” Brodeur said. “We ran into a hot goaltender. It was just a hockey game that we didn’t win.”
The Devils were much more effective in the third period, but it was the second period that did them in. After the Islanders took the two-goal lead, New Jersey went 0-for-4 on the power play in the middle frame.
“Our power play didn’t score, but you’ve got to give their goaltender some credit, too,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “He played a hell of a game for them.”
Islanders coach Ted Nolan also gushed about his defensive group, which took another hit with the loss of Chris Campoli. The 23-year-old suffered a shoulder injury in the first period and did not return. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
New York was already missing Brendan Witt (ankle) and Radek Martinek (leg), which put added pressure on the likes of Freddy Meyer, Bruno Gervais, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Bryan Berard. The collective efforts of that foursome — along with the phenomenal play of DiPietro — got the Islanders their third win in four games.
"Usually our penalty killers have done a good job, but our No. 1 penalty killer — Ricky — had one of his better games tonight," Nolan said. "You also have to give credit to Freddy Meyer, Gervais and the whole defense corps for stepping up after losing Witt, Martinek and now Campoli."
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used in this report.