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Campoli's OT goal helps Isles escape

by Brian Compton /
A few thoughts before I vote for Tom Green:

They did it again -- After watching their team blow a 4-1 lead in the final 12 minutes Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, fans of the New York Islanders probably cringed Monday night when the Isles headed off for the second intermission with a 3-0 edge against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nassau Coliseum.
They had every right to feel that way. While most hockey people will tell you a 2-goal lead is the most dangerous one to have, no lead is safe on Long Island.
Less than 5 minutes into the third period, it was 3-2. When R.J. Umberger scored his second goal of the period at 11:02 to tie the game, everyone in the building was simply waiting for Isles coach Scott Gordon to use his timeout.
But he didn't.
In the end, Chris Campoli's second goal of the night at 3:13 of overtime snapped a 6-game winless streak (0-5-1), as the Islanders fought off another embarrassment with a 4-3 victory.
"We can't beat ourselves up here," Gordon said. "We can yell and scream at each other, but at the end of the day, we have to put things in the past and figure out ways to be successful in the future. And tonight wasn't the optimal way of doing it, but they found a way to do it."    
Still, what's causing the Islanders to lose their focus after 40 minutes? What's it going to take for them to get such a lead and hang on to it?
"It's obviously discouraging that 2 games in a row we have a 3-goal lead going into the third period, and we can't have it easy," Gordon said. "It wasn't the same type of things that happened against Montreal, but we've got to find a way to not let this happen to us. It wouldn't have been a fun press conference had it gone the other way."
Seriously. It's not far-fetched to think that a Jackets victory would have sparked a high-speed chase on the Meadowbrook Parkway with a groundhog in Gordon's lap.    

No support -- With Kevin Weekes making his first start since the Clinton administration (just kidding … it was Jan. 5), one would have thought the New Jersey Devils would pepper Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres with as many shots as possible.
Instead, Brent Sutter's club was outshot by a 20-3 margin in the first period, which forced Weekes to do more handstands than Mary Lou Retton. While Weekes allowed just 2 goals on 30 shots Monday night, his teammates in front of him came up empty in a 2-0 loss at The Rock.

"This was an absolutely stellar showing by the Sabres..."


"New Jersey didn’t deserve to win this game..."


"The statistics going into the game left me a little worried..."

''We didn't play at all in the first,'' Devils center John Madden said. ''We stood around and watched, and then the penalties. We didn't get anything going.''
Despite the loss, Weekes was recognized by the media and was named the game's No. 3 star. Sutter certainly appreciated the efforts from Weekes, who for the time being is New Jersey's No. 1 goalie until Martin Brodeur returns from an elbow injury.
"He gave us a chance to win," Sutter said. "He played well, he kept us in the game, especially the first 28 minutes. I thought that in the first period, he was outstanding. Again, I thought he gave us the opportunity to have the chance to win or at least he got us the chance. That's what you need from your goaltender. I thought he played very well."
Much like Madden, Sutter was dumbfounded by his team's lack of intensity in the game's first 20 minutes.
"I thought we stood around," Sutter said. "We weren't active and when you do that, you don't play smart. We had [5] minor penalties in the first period against a good hockey team like that, that can create offense. They made it happen in the first period. I give [Buffalo] full marks for the way they played."
Feeling at home -- Roughly 6 months after his contract was not renewed by the Colorado Avalanche, Joel Quenneville feels right at home behind the Chicago Blackhawks' bench.
After Monday night's convincing 6-2 win against his former club at the United Center, Quenneville said he is extremely comfortable in the Windy City, where he ended up 4 games into the 2008-09 season when he replaced the fired Denis Savard. He's also relieved that the questions about facing his former club are complete.
“It was different. I’m glad it’s over,” Quenneville said. “It’s kind of like playing against your old buddies. At the same time, we mean business. It’s a huge game for us and we did what we had to do. We did a lot of good things tonight.”
With Monday's win, the Blackhawks are now 5-0-2 on home ice, as they continue to work toward making the United Center an intimidating place to play. Chicago will play 4 more games at home before a 6-game road trip.
“We had a favorable home schedule to start the season and we’re taking advantage of it,” Quenneville said. “You get on a little bit of a roll and you get the crowd behind you. It’s a fun place to be.”

Contact Brian Compton at:

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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