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GET TO THE GAME: Islanders vs. New Jersey, Sat. 7:00 pm

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
(Firefighter Appreciation Night)
A night to honor Long Island's Bravest and benefit three local Burn Centers

Besides going to an incredible hockey game, the New York Islanders are donating a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to these local Burn Centers:

Islanders (4-3-0) vs. New Jersey (3-4-0)

Rick DiPietro
If two things were learned from the 2006-07 season, it's that 1) every game matters and 2) games against the Devils can be more than exciting - they can be epic.

The Islanders may have gone only 2-5-1 against New Jersey in 2006-07, but they won the game that mattered most, a 3-2 shootout decision in Game 82 of the regular season.

The two Atlantic Division rivals renew their longstanding feud, Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders own a 101-59-22-4 advantage over the Devils franchise since they first matched up in 1974. Of course, that was a decade before they moved to New Jersey and eventually became a powerhouse NHL franchise.

These are not your older brother's Devils
In the early goings of the 2007-08 season, New Jersey has not looked like the defense-first team they've been known as over the past decade. New Jersey has allowed at least three goals in six of their first seven contests.

Surprisingly, it was backup goaltender Kevin Weekes, who allowed only one goal in a 4-1 win over Florida. Future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur sports a 3.51 goals against average and .865 save percentage in his first five starts.

It was early last season (November 2) when the Islanders took advantage of the struggling Devils, winning 5-2 at the Continental Airlines Arena.

New Jersey is looking to earn their third consecutive Atlantic Division title.

DiPietro vs. the Devils
Rick DiPietro comes into tonight's action with a 7-8-1 career record in 18 games against the New Jersey Devils. Over this span, DiPietro has a 2.41 GAA, allowing 43 goals. In 2006-07, DiPietro tallied a record of 1-4-1 against New Jersey, but had a record of 1-1-1 at the Coliseum. On March 7, 2006 DiPietro's 50th NHL victory came against New Jersey.

Weekes vs. Islanders
Kevin Weekes will be in goal tonight for the second time this season. The 32-year old netminder has a history with the Islanders having played for Tampa Bay, Carolina, and most recently, the Rangers. He sports an 8-9-1 record against the Islanders, with a 2.97 GAA. Weekes faced the Islanders twice last season, while with the Rangers, going 0-1-0. He replaced Henrik Lundqvist in a 7-4 loss at Madison Square Garden, but did not get a decision.

Some new and familiar faces
New Jersey has been resilient in the past, bouncing back from heavy losses in their personnel due to free agency. This year they're hoping for the same scenario at their new arena in Newark.

Out: C Scott Gomez, D Brad Lukowich, D Brian Rafalski, G Scott Clemmensen, Continental Airlines Arena

In: F Dainius Zubrus, D Karel Rachunek, D Vitaly Vishnevski, F Arron Asham, G Kevin Weekes, Prudential Center

(potential lines and D pairings)

Brendan Witt
39 Rick DiPietro
34 Wade Dubielewicz

32 Brendan Witt -  24 Radek Martinek
25 Andy Sutton - 4 Bryan Berard
14 Chris Campoli - 8 Bruno Gervais

26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 89 Mike Comrie - 13 Bill Guerin
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
20 Sean Bergenheim - 63 Josef Vasicek - 81 Miroslav Satan
12 Chris Simon - 10 Richard Park -27 Darryl Bootland 

New Jersey
1 Kevin Weekes
30 Martin Brodeur

29 John Oduya - 7 Paul Martin
28 Karel Rachunek - 6 Andy Greene
2 Vitaly Vishnevski - 27 Mike Mottau

26 Patrik Elias - 19 Travis Zajac - 14 Brian Gionta
9 Zach Parise - 16 Dainius Zubrus - 22 Arron Asham
20 Jay Pandolfo - 11 John Madden - 23 David Clarkson
18 Sergei Brylin - 10 Rod Pelley - 17 Mike Rupp

Crucial Matchup: Witt-Martinek vs. Elias line
Expect Ted Nolan to match up the Brendan Witt-Radek Martinek pairing against the ever-dangerous Patrik Elias-Brian Gionta tandem. And look for the Sillinger-Guerin-Hilbert line to also be put against the two speedsters, who are paired with power forward Travis Zajac.

Even without Scott Gomez, the chemistry between Gionta and Elias in uncanny. They weave in and out seamlessly in the offensive zone. The five Islanders assigned to match up against them will have to "keep it simple," and keep them to the outside to try and limit their chances.

Look for Nolan to also try and get the Bruno Gervais-Chris Campoli combination out there against the second line of Zach Parise, Dainius Zubrus and Arron Asham. Those three have been clicking since they were put together last week.


Wade Dubielewicz
Recalling the Easter Epic II
Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007 will go down as one of the greatest games in Islanders history. The combination of importance, excitement and tension may never be matched again in a regular season game.

But for one day, all the forces of good (and evil) came raining down on the Islanders as they skated for their playoff lives at the Continental Airlines Arena.

After 81 games of grueling hockey, it was a simple scenario for the Islanders - win and move on or lose and go home. The Islanders earned that right by knocking off three Eastern Conference foes in a row, with Wade Dubielewicz leading the charge, and a little help from their "friends" the Rangers and Maple Leafs, who each defeated Montreal in the Canadiens' final two games.

The stage was set for an apparent no-contest for the Islanders against New Jersey, who had already clinched the Atlantic Division title and secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference. With Scott Clemmensen in goal, the Islanders didn't have to face their nemesis, Martin Brodeur.

Despite the situation, it was a typical game against the Devils, tight-checking and with limited chances. But it was an Islanders tight-checker that sparked the Orange and Blue. Richard Park scored goals in the first and third periods to give the Islanders a not-so-comfortable two-goal lead.

The Devils, however, would not back down, getting a goal from checking line center John Madden with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.

Seconds ticked by slowly as the Islanders looked nervously on from the bench and the thousands of Islanders fans in the visiting arena chanted "We want the playoffs."

The Islanders looked destined to reach their third postseason in four seasons with only seconds remaining on the clock. Jamie Langenbrunner of the Devils threw one last prayer on the goal with nearly no time left. With Dubie down, Madden chipped the puck over the fallen goaltender and into the goal with less than a second left on the clock.

Impossible -  no, improbable!

Not a single Islanders fan watching this game had any nails left after this epic battle, as the team exchanged nerve-racking chances in the overtime. But, no sale. It would end – fittingly – in a shootout.

Miroslav Satan scored, but Zach Parise countered. The Islanders scored again to grab a 2-1 lead with only Sergei Brylin left. He juked to the forehand, and went to the backhand – the same move as Parise - but Dubie saw it coming and whipped out his patented poke-check to win it for the Islanders.

It was a game no Islanders fan - or player - will soon forget.

Brent Sutter
The Return of Brent Sutter
Islander fans from all over know the names, have seen the faces and have watched the highlights time and time again from the Dynasty era. This Saturday night Islanders fans will get a chance to see one of their old friends as Brent Sutter returns to the Coliseum for the first time as a head coach in the National Hockey League. Sutter leads the New Jersey Devils into the Coliseum to battle the Islanders.

The Player
One of six brothers to play in the National Hockey League, Sutter was drafted by the Islanders with the 17th overall selection in the 1981 Entry Draft, which turned out to be the beginning of a storied career. Sutter would go on to score 20-or-more goals in ten consecutive seasons with the Islanders.

Alongside brother Duane, Brent would help the Orange and Blue win the Stanley Cup in 1982 and 1983. During the 1984-85 season, Sutter tallied career-highs of 42 goals and 60 assists in 72 games. Overall, Sutter accumulated 363 goals, 466 assists and 829 points in 1,111 NHL games played.

In 88 career playoff games with the Islanders, he tallied 25 goals, 34 assists and 59 points. After Dennis Potvin retired in 1988, Sutter was named the Islanders' fourth captain in franchise history, a title he would hold until 1991 before being traded along with Brad Lauer to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Adam Creighton and Steve Thomas. Sutter went on to play seven more seasons with the Blackhawks before finally hanging up the skates on April 18, 1998.

The Coach
Sutter's coaching career began shortly after his NHL career came to a close as he purchased the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL in 1999. Sutter acted as both the general manager and head coach of the Rebels and led the team to the Memorial Cup Championship in 2001 and three consecutive Eastern Conference Championships from 2001-2003, earning the 2001 Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as the league's top coach along the way. After serving as head coach for eight seasons with the Rebels, Sutter accepted the head coaching position with the New Jersey Devils on July 13, 2007.

Brent's Islanders Stats

Category Number Rank in
Islander History
Games 694 8th
Goals 287 6th
Assists 323 7th
Points 610 5th
PP Goals 91 5th
SH Goals 12 7th
GW Goals 37 T-6th

On Tuesday, fans caught just a glimpse of the excitement that Firefighter Appreciation Night will bring to the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.

Dressed to impress in their firefighting uniforms, defensemen Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais gave Islanders Country a backstage pass into the life of Long Island's Bravest - the volunteer men and women of the Long Island Fire Department.

From rising 95-feet high in the air on the Ladder Engine truck to leading the charge with a fully-loaded water hose, the young Islanders defense pairing had an unforgettable day, and so can you.

Members of the East Meadow and Plainview Fire Departments, as well as the Terry Ferell Fund will be on-site prior to and during the Islanders contest against the Devils to help make the game experience even more exciting.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Nassau County Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, Burn Clinic at Stony Brook University Medical Center and New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.

Below are the fun activities planned for Firefighter Appreciation Night.
  • Collectible Firefighter-themed NYI hat, courtesy of Winthrop University Hospital, for first 10,000 fans
  • Tix up to 40% off for Firefighters with tickets starting at just $16
  • Nearly a dozen Fire trucks, equipment, exhibits from the East Meadow, Plainview Fire Stations and the Terry Ferell Fund
  • Q104.3 First Annual Islanders Chili cook-off
  • The Brentwood Fire Station Marching Band
So come out to the Coliseum for a great hockey game and very worthy cause this Saturday as the Islanders host the New Jersey Devils.

To purchase tickets visit the Coliseum box office or order through Ticketmaster here.

A new series of Islanders partial season ticket plans are about to go on sale. For information please call 1.800.882.ISLES.

compiled by Jason Lockhart and Adam Baruch

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