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Atlantic: Win against Pens proves costly to Devils

by Phil Coffey
For the New Jersey Devils, the excitement of defeating the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins on the road -- improving to 5-0-0 away from home -- was more than tempered by the news that defenseman Paul Martin and forward Jay Pandolfo will miss significant amounts of time with injuries.

Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters Monday that Martin and Pandolfo will both miss four to six weeks.

According to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, Martin has a non-displaced fracture of his lower left arm above the wrist. He will not require surgery, but will have to wear a cast. Pandolfo's right shoulder popped out on a hit from behind from former Devil Mike Rupp in the second period of Saturday's game.

Lamoriello said "it could be less" than four-to-six weeks for Pandolfo, but that he might eventually need surgery, They will try to rehab it first. He said waiting to have the surgery would not extend the four-to-six week timetable.

"We won't know for a short period of time whether surgery is needed or not," Lamoriello said. "Right now, he will not be operated on. It's something that you wait and see. It's his first time with this shoulder, so it's a situation that you just see what rehab does and it won't hold any time back by waiting on rehab or operate.

"There's no question what they bring to the lineup," Lamoriello said. "Paul, certainly, what he brings to the defense and Jay what he brings to penalty killing and leadership and five-on-five defensive situations. But, as I said earlier, you cannot put it as anything other than it's part of the game and when these things transpire other people get opportunities and you just hope the players take advantage of those opportunities and make the most of it. That's all you can do."

Both were hurt Saturday in Pittsburgh, where the Devils won, 4-2, cooling off a nuclear-hot Penguins team that had won seven-straight games.

On the ice, the Devils have begun to play the kind of game coach Jacques Lemaire wants, especially during the very solid outing against the Penguins.

"I think that we played a really good, tight game," Lemaire told reporters after the game. "We didn’t give them much. The result of their power play not scoring was huge for us. When you look at the ingredients that they have on the power play, and for us to be able to shut them down, it was a big task. Everyone played really well. I really enjoyed the game because we had no passengers; everyone did their job and was good with the puck. (The Penguins) were waiting for a little life, which we never gave them."

The results were indeed impressive. Sidney Crosby had an assist and only two shots. New Jersey was even better against Evgeni Malkin, holding him without a point or a shot. And as Lemaire indicates, the Devils were sharp on the penalty kill, holding the Pens off the board four times.

Lemaire looked at the two most recent road games as a indicator of where his team was. If not for the injuries to two key guys, it was a very good display.

"It's still early," Lemaire said. "A lot of hockey to be played."

Riding the pine  -- Make no mistake about it, John Tortorella isn't a kidder. What he says he means; so Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Higgins should not have been surprised to sit on the bench during what became an ugly loss in Montreal Saturday where New York blew a 3-1 first-period lead en route to a 5-4, overtime loss.

"When you have a game going your way, you don't beat yourself and that's what we did," said Tortorella.

Tortorella benched both forwards for sloppy play. A turnover that led to a Montreal goal was the reason for Dubinsky's sit-down, while Higgins, who has struggled offensively with 2 assists in 11 games, took a penalty that gave the Canadiens a two-man advantage.

"There was a turnover by Dubinsky in the neutral zone and we can't have that," said Tortorella. "It was a huge momentum swing.

"Higgins is a guy we've been patient with and there was a penalty (which gave Montreal a two-man advantage in the second) and then the backcheck on (Mike Cammalleri's second goal). If you aren't producing offensively, then you've got to do other things. We're going to go with the guys who do things to help us win."

Uneven weekend for Flyers  -- Against the Florida Panthers Saturday night, the Philadelphia Flyers looked like gangbusters, romping to a 5-1 win. Against the San Jose Sharks Sunday, not so much, losing 4-1.
"We didn't play well enough to win," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said, not impressed that Philly had the edge in shots, 38-28 against the Sharks. "I don't care what the shot totals were; we weren't dedicated or determined enough to get to the net and get those goals. We saw a lot of pucks and we cleared a lot of loose rebounds that were sitting there.

"These are games where you look back and wish we would have played just a little bit better."

Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher, who played for the Sharks for the past two seasons, played for the first time this season against San Jose.

"It would have been nice to win," Boucher said. "It didn't work out that way. It was a starting point."

Isles' woes continue  -- The New York Islanders continue to struggle mightily to hold on to a lead. The latest blown lead came Saturday night at home to the Washington Capitals.

The Islanders managed to keep Alex Ovechkin off the scoreboard, no small feat, but blew a 2-0, third-period lead in a 3-2 overtime loss. The loss was the third in which the Islanders have blown a multiple-goal lead and the fourth in which they lost a game while leading in the third period.

"Given the fact that we're certainly not a dynamic offensive team, it's probably going to happen to us more than we'd like," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "It has happened more than we'd like. We're not happy about it. That killer instinct ... that comes from burying your chances. We've got find a way to be a little bit tighter defensively."

The inability to hold leads has plagued the Islanders in their one-plus seasons under Gordon. They lost five times in regulation and four in overtime or a shootout last season when leading after two periods. The Isles are 0-1-3 this season when they have the lead through 40 minutes.

"It's frustrating, but there was a lot more good than there was bad," said Gordon, whose team has been outscored 16-6 in the third period this season. "It's not going to be easy for us, and we've got to understand that and just make sure that we develop a killer instinct. To me, that's the separation between the teams that do have that success in the third period that we haven't had."

Fleury among the finest  -- Here's something you might not know. The Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury, just 24, has 119 career victories. Pretty impressive stuff for a player often overshadowed by the offensive exploits of his teammates.

Fleury won his first eight games this season and is tied for the League lead in wins with Colorado's Craig Anderson and the Kings' Jonathan Quick. His. 2.19 goals-against average is tied for 10th in the NHL.

“It is tough to explain I think," Fleury told the Penguins' Web site when asked for the reasons for his success. "I think every year there is a stretch of time where nothing is going well. You are still doing and working the same but everything goes in and you are losing games. Other times it is just going well as the team plays confident and calm no matter if we are winning or trailing in the game."

“I think with each experience he has gone through he has probably gained confidence," Crosby said. "Being in the Final and winning Game 7 probably boosted it, but I think he has built confidence with each year."

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