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Devils 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders were not satisfied with the result of their 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at Prudential Center. As a result, interim head coach Jack Capuano was the most fired up after a game that he’s been since he took over the coaching position back in November.

“It was a one-sided game,” Capuano said. “I don’t comment much on the officiating, but you have to let the players decide the game, especially a game with this kind of magnitude and when guys are battling.”

Throughout the game, the young squad couldn’t get the momentum started because they were peppered by penalties throughout the game. The most hard-felt penalty was the third period 10 minute misconduct to Frans Nielsen, which Capuano tried to retain explanation from the officials, but came up empty handed.

Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders and Nick Palmieri #32 of the New Jersey Devils battle for a loose puck during the game at the Prudential Center on March 12, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
“Tonight was a little overboard for me,” Capuano said. “They made some calls and they were good calls, but at the same time, I don’t think that we’re that undisciplined and they’re that disciplined. We had 11 seconds of power play, as a team we had 25 minutes in penalties and our assistant captain (Nielsen) got thrown into the box for 10 minutes. To me, that’s a lack of respect.”

Even though the Islanders were down one of their best penalty killers, as well as best forwards, the team stuck through and played hard for each other.

“It’s tough,” goaltender Al Montoya said. “But Fransie (Nielsen) has killed enough for us that we can battle through that and that for him. He’s done a great job of that all here. So we’re out there battling and if we lose one guy, we’ve got another guy (who’s going to step up). That’s the kind of mentality we have right now.”

In the first and second, the Islanders went for a combined four penalties, with the final coming at the final buzzer of the second, sending the Islanders into the third period shorthanded. The Islanders took an additional four penalties in the final 20 minutes of regulation.

“We had no momentum tonight,” Capuano said. “We couldn’t get anything going because we were killing penalties all night long.”

The Devils fought back from a one-goal deficit to steal a 3-2 win in the overtime period as Anssi Salmela scored at 3:09. To send the game into the extra session, David Clarkson shoveled in a loose puck in front of Al Montoya to tie the score at 5:42 of the third.

But the Islanders had a solid second period. Even though they had just six shots, two of them found their way into the net. Andrew MacDonald’s slap shot from the point was deflected twice before finding it’s way past Martin Brodeur at 6:46, sending the Islanders ahead 2-1. MacDonald and Matt Moulson earned an assist on the play, while John Tavares got the goal.

“For the most part, I thought we did a good job,” Moulson said. “We were down 1-0 and didn’t get frustrated. We came out in the second, played real well. I thought we did real well for most of the game.”

Al Montoya #35 of the New York Islanders makes a save on a point blank shot by Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils during the game at the Prudential Center on March 12, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Zenon Konopka took a penalty for roughing at the end of the first period and the Islanders would start the second period on the penalty kill. Reawakened by the thought, Blake Comeau scored a shorthanded goal (his 20th of the season) at 1:13 to tie the score at one when Jack Hillen helped the Islanders power forward push through on an odd-man rush.

The Devils came out hard to throw the Islanders off balance and just 1:57 into the first period, Jacob Josefson scored his first career NHL goal. With the early lead, the Devils held the Islanders to just three shots on goal that period.

Heading into the contest, the Islanders had been making a name for themselves as one of the hottest in the league. The team has is tied for the league lead in points since Dec. 16, earning 49 points – tying them with the Boston Bruins at the top of the Eastern Conference.

“It felt like a playoff game definitely,” forward Blake Comeau said. “There are a lot of emotions out there. I think a good showcase of that was Frans (Nielsen) playing with a lot of emotion. I think everyone was. It was big points for both teams. It’s a tough road for both teams to make the playoffs, but we’re definitely not mathematically out. Every point counts.”

In the end, the Islanders earned one point, but it wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for.

“There were two desperate teams going at it tonight,” Montoya said. “We wanted it just as badly as they did… They came hard at us all night. You can’t give that team too many power plays or it’s going to come back and haunt you one way or another. They got us there in overtime.”

Islanders lineups

26 Matt Moulson - 91 John Tavares - 15 PA Parenteau
40 Michael Grabner - 51 Frans Nielsen - 21 Kyle Okposo
17 Matt Martin - 12 Josh Bailey - 57 Blake Comeau
59 Micheal Haley - 28 Zenon Konopka - 81 Justin DiBenedetto

47 Andrew MacDonald - 36 Travis Hamonic
24 Radek Martinek - 38 Jack Hillen
27 Milan Jurcina - 8 Bruno Gervais

35 Al Montoya
52 Nathan Lawson

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