Official Scoresheet | Official Super Stats
By Jason Lockhart
The Devils won 3-2, Tuesday Night at the Nassau Coliseum behind stifling team defense and solid goaltending from Martin Brodeur, who stopped 23 of 25 shots for his 44th win of the season.
New Jersey scored two of their three goals on the power play, and limited the Islanders to two goals or fewer for the fourth game in a row. The Devils built a 3-1 lead early in the third period before the Islanders cut it to 3-2. They desperately tried to get the equalizer in the final minute, but couldn't get another past Brodeur.
"You have to be patient against these guys and stay out of the box," said Jason Blake, who scored the Islanders' second goal. "When they get a lead it's tough to get back on them. We fought and fought, but it was too late."
Mike Dunham stopped 29 of 32 shots before being replaced late in the third period by Wade Dubielewicz, who turned aside all four shots he faced. Dunham left the game with cramps, but should be ready to go on Friday, if needed.
New Jersey took a 1-0 lead on their first power play of the game. Zach Parise jammed a loose puck in the crease past Dunham at 3:11 of the first period for his 30th goal of the season.
The Devils grabbed a 2-0 lead when Chris Campoli inadvertently slid into the goal with the puck after knocking away Scott Gomez's centering pass, 5:20 into the second period.
"It was just one of those bad breaks," said Dunham. "Campoli was doing his job battling with the guy going to the net and he just fell. It could have hit the post and gone wide, but it didn't go our way."
Alexei Yashin cut the lead in half with 9:40 to go in the second period on the power play. Randy Robitaille laid a short pass over to Yashin, who blasted a slapshot from the high slot past Brodeur's glove.
Another power-play goal gave the Devils a 3-1 lead. David Clarkson put a rebound past Dunham, 4:44 into the third period.
At 6:35 of the third period Dubielewicz replaced Dunham.
"This happened six or seven years ago," said Dunham, referring to the cramps. "I couldn't bend my legs, so I thought it was best to get someone in there who could move. With some treatment, I feel fine and ready to go."
After generating few chances five-on-five, Ted Nolan switched up the lines. Ryan Smyth saw time with Mike Sillinger and Trent Hunter, while Blake played alongside Arron Asham and Robitaille.
Blake made it 3-2 with 6:21 remaining in the third period. Asham took the puck around the net and stuffed it in front to Blake, who chipped it over an outstretched Brodeur.
"The first period wasn't going very well, so sometimes you need a little shake-up," said Nolan. "I thought Asham played well coming off the bench."
The Islanders generated a couple of glorious chances in the final minute with Dubielewicz pulled, but could not even the score.
Following tonight's games, the Islanders find themselves two points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the East. The Islanders travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres, Friday evening.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. David Clarkson: Scored his third goal of the season for the game-winner
2. Scott Gomez: A goal, a tied for the team lead in shots with five
3. Randy Robitaille: Two assists, +1
4. Zach Parise: Scored his fourth goal against the Islanders this season
5. Jason Blake: His late goal made the game close, five shots
Stat of the Game: The Islanders did not commit a penalty in the first or third periods. New Jersey went 2-for-4 on the power play, while the Islanders were 1-for-2
Fans of the Game: Kristie and Brian are from Graden City. Kristie met Brian when he was bartending at a local bar. Brian's the bigger Islanders fan, but has turned Kristie into one as well. Brian is a Trent Hunter fan, while Kristie has taken a liking to Rick DiPietro
Game Operations: The Alure Down on the Farm Report featured prospects Dustin Kohn (Brandon of the WHL) and Andrew MacDonald (Moncton of the QMJHL), who both are performing well in their respective playoffs...The Northport Fire Deaprtment, who was featured in a "We're All Islanders" commercial was in attendance. Captain Chris Hughes was interviewed by in-game host, C.J. Papa...Tonight's Commerce Bank Hometown Here was William Beatty. He's a Korean War veteran and has spent the past 20 years ensuring the care of veterans on Long Island. Presenting the award to William was Miss USO Stacie Erin Wells. Emily Cappucci was today's Junior Ice Girl. She performed beautifully to the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."
Slapshots: Alexei Yashin has points in four straight games (2-2)...Tonight's attendance was 13,337...Allan Rourke suited up in his tenth game for the Islanders, filling in for Freddy Meyer...Wade Dubielewicz has stopped all 12 shots he's faces this year...The Islanders' scratches were Rick DiPietro (headaches), Freddy Meyer (finger), Bruno Gervais (ankles) and Richard Zednik (personal reasons)
1 Mike Dunham
34 Wade Dubielewicz
32 Brendan Witt - 6 Sean Hill
14 Chris Campoli - 38 Allan Rourke
3 Tom Poti - 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
94 Ryan Smyth - 27 Randy Robitaille - 55 Jason Blake
79 Alexei Yashin - 25 Viktor Kozlov - 81 Miroslav Satan
45 Arron Asham - 10 Richard Park - 15 Jeff Tambellini
30 Martin Brodeur
40 Scott Clemmensen
5 Colin White - 28 Brian Rafalski
29 Johnny Oduya - 7 Paul Martin
6 Andy Greene - 21 Brad Lukowich
26 Patrik Elias - 23 Scott Gomez - 27 David Clarkson
9 Zach Parise - 19 Travis Zajac - 15 Jamie Langenbrunner
20 Jay Pandolfo - 10 Erik Rasmussen - 18 Sergei Brylin
17 Michael Rupp - 12 Jim Dowd - 25 Cam Janssen