UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ This time, Jason Blake got the traditional salute for
his three-goal effort.
Blake netted his second career hat trick to lift New York to a 3-1 victory
Friday night over the Minnesota Wild and move the Islanders closer to their
third straight playoff appearance.
Blake's first NHL hat trick occurred last season against Atlanta, when fans
were given Islanders boxer shorts that quickly littered the ice after goal No.
On Friday, Blake received the customary hats on the ice tribute.
``Everything just came so fast,'' Blake said. ``We wanted to make sure, win
or lose, that we played as good as we could play.''
Blake's hat trick, the first recorded by an Atlantic Division player this
season, pushed the Islanders six points ahead of Buffalo in the race for the
eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have eight games
``Tampa Bay did us a favor (Thursday) night by beating Buffalo,'' Islanders
goalie Rick DiPietro said. ``We still have eight games to go, and we need as
many points as we can get.''
DiPietro made 15 saves for his 19th win this season, New York's third in
Andrew Brunette scored for the Wild, who had their three-game winning streak
snapped. Dwayne Roloson stopped 23 shots.
Blake gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with 4:53 left in the first period while
the teams were skating four-on-four. He eluded three checks as he carried the
puck from his blue line to the Minnesota zone. He moved to the right circle and
beat Roloson with a high wrist shot.
``I kind of had my head down, and their guy missed me,'' Blake said. ``I was
going to pass across to Michael (Peca), but I saw the goalie cheated and I took
a chance and shot it.''
New York coach Steve Stirling was impressed.
``He didn't have much of a hole to shoot at,'' Stirling said, ``and he
nailed it beautifully.''
DiPietro protected New York's advantage by making a low glove save on Marian
Gaborik's wrist shot at 7:55 of the second period.
Blake made it 2-0 at 12:52 with a short-handed goal. He skated to the goal
mouth and pushed the puck between Roloson's legs.
``That was a great play by Scatch (Dave Scatchard),'' Blake said. ``He had a
guy draped all over him, and he managed to get me the puck.''
Brunette cut the lead in half with his 15th goal at 3:02 of the third
period. Brunette took a pass from Alexandre Daigle and beat DiPietro with a
Blake completed his hat trick with 0.4 seconds left when he scored an
empty-net goal when a Minnesota player threw his stick at the puck while Blake
was breaking in alone.
Despite the loss, Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire was pleased with his
``It was a pretty good game,'' Lemaire said. ``We didn't get a lot of shots
(17), but we had a lot of good chances to score.''