Wild 4, Islanders 3
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Despite coming back from a 2-0 deficit for a one-goal lead, the Islanders fell to the Wild 4-3, thanks to a late goal in the second period. Not many in the building could focus on the loss on the scoreboard, as their thoughts were with the injured Jason Blake.
A hard hit by Minnesota's Kurtis Foster on a falling Blake low in the corner of the Wild's zone led to a lengthy delay, as the Islanders wing lay motionless on the ice. Team doctors examined him before he was taken away by stretcher, as the crowd chanted his name. Information about Blake's condition was not immediately available following the game.
In the first period, the Wild wasted no time in getting on the board, taking a 1-0 lead before a minute had ticked off the clock. Wes Walz hit Alex Daigle just before the blueline with a pass across neutral ice, penetrating the Islanders' end of the ice. Dropping the puck behind him at the point, he set up Mitchell, who hammered a hard slapper high to Rick DiPietro's stick-side. It was the fastest goal allowed by the Islanders this season.
Walz and Daigle hooked up again six minutes later, with Daigle leading Walz this time. Taking the puck at the Wild blueline, Walz broke up ice with Gaborik, starting a 2-on-1 that ended in the back of the net, as Gaborik knocked the puck under a diving DiPietro.
Following a rough first period, the Islanders came out of the locker room and put together a solid start to the middle stanza, killing off the second half of a Chris Campoli hooking penalty. Out of the box, Campoli pulled the Islanders within one with his fourth goal of the season. Taking the puck behind the Wild net, Asham moved the puck to Campoli at the top of the circles. The defenseman flicked the puck on net, and off Manny Fernandez's glove to give the locals their first goal of the night.
With their second powerplay of the period, the Islanders pulled even with Minnesota. Fed the puck by Radek Martinek, Mike York put a slapshot on goal that left a juicy rebound off Fernandez' pads. Falling down in front, Miroslav Satan managed to get his stick on the puck and toss it into the open net. The tie didn't last long, as Minnesota native Mark Parrish chased down the puck along the boards in the Wild's zone and fired it on net. A deflection in front of the crease put the Isles up by one.
A penalty for too many men on the ice proved costly for the Islanders with eight minutes left in the second, as the Wild pulled even on Gaborik's second goal of the game. Getting the puck at the top of the offensive zone, Gaborik tossed a wrister at Rick DiPietro that ducked past the netminder. DiPietro was beaten again, with just 2.8 seconds left in the period, as Asham was called for unsportsmanlike conduct following a slashing call the Islanders killed off.
Once Chouinard tucked a loose puck into the net for a powerplay goal and a 4-3 lead, Asham was whistled again, this time for unsportsmanlike conduct, a penalty that left the Islanders with two shorthanded minutes to kill at the start of the third period and Asham with a 10-minute stay in the sin bin.
Overshadowed by the injury to Blake, the third period was otherwise uneventful, as the Islanders were unable to convert on a trio of powerplay opportunities.
OFF THE ICE:
Tomi Pettinen has returned to Long Island, following his conditioning stint with the AHL's Sound Tigers, while Bruno Gervais was assigned to Bridgeport... For the Islanders, Shawn Bates (hamstring), Oleg Kvasha (ankle) and Petteri Nokelainen (knee) were scratched, while the Oilers sat Pascal Dupuis (flu), Filip Kuba (back spasms) and Kyle Wanvig (healthy)... With the defeat, the Islanders' record in the all-time serieswith Minnesota falls to 3-4-0-0... Only one player on the ice Tuesday has worn both jerseys: Randy Robitaille (Islanders, 2003)... New York has two players in the NHL's top 10 in hits, as Arron Asham has 79 (6th) and Trent Hunter has 73 (9th).
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Mark Parrish on the team's reaction to Jason Blake's injury:
"It's tough to swallow when a teammate goes through something like that. Part of being professional is dealing with injuries, but it is always in the back of your mind. It was a pretty scary sight."
On avoiding bench minor penalties in the future:
"Those are mental mistakes. It's a miscommunication; guys just have to know where they are on the ice."
Rick DiPietro on playing Minnesota:
"They are a tough team to play against. They lull you to sleep because they are so methodical. A lot of turnovers are forced in the neutral zone, and they take advantage of them."
Steve Stirling on the team's first period struggles:
"I don't know what the problem is. They (the Wild) came out skating and they were quicker than us in the first. We didn't get the puck in deep, and that led to 3-on-2's. Bottom line is we didn't help ourselves."
Aaron Asham on his four consecutive penalties in the second:
"I feel terrible, I cost us the game. I shouldn't have thrown my stick, I got carried away. The referee came over and I told him to leave me alone. I got an extra two minutes for that. It's over and done with and I just have to move on."
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(28) Wyatt Smith-(37) Mark Parrish
(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(44) Janne Niinimaa-(25) Brad Lukowich
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(8) Tomi Pettinen
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(9) Alexandre Daigle-(38) Wes Walz-(10) Marian Gaborik
(28) Todd White-(12) Brian Rolston-(96) Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(19) Stephane Veilleux-(32) Marc Chouinard-(8) Brent Burns
(24) Derek Boogaard-(21) Mikko Koivu-(25) Randy Robitaille
(2) Willie Mitchell-(26) Kurtis Foster
(20) Andrei Zyuzin-(36) Alex Henry
(55) Nick Schultz-(34) Daniel Tjarnqvist
(35) Manny Fernandez
(30) Dwayne Roloson