UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ The New York Islanders easily took care of the
Montreal Canadiens, and moved very close to their third straight playoff
Mark Parrish and Roman Hamrlik each had two goals to help the New York
Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 Wednesday night.
Their magic number is two points over the Buffalo Sabres in the race for the
final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres stayed in contention
by beating the New York Rangers 4-3 Wednesday night.
``We're still not concerned with what Buffalo does,'' Islanders coach Steve
Stirling said. ``We only care about and focus on ourselves.''
Some fans chanted even chanted ``Let's Go Rangers'' in support of their
``I think we're frustrated that we didn't put (Buffalo) away ourselves,''
Parrish said. ``We just have to go down to Carolina on Friday and take care of
Adrian Aucoin also scored for the Islanders, and Rick DiPietro stopped 20
shots _ allowing only Jason Ward's goal _ for his 22nd win. The Islanders have
won 25 games at home, their highest total since winning 26 times there in the
Jose Theodore made only 10 saves in 40 minutes before being replaced in
Montreal's goal by Mathieu Garon for the third period.
The Islanders scored two goals 43 seconds apart within the first five
minutes to take a 2-0 lead.
With Craig Rivet in the penalty box, the Islanders scored on their first
shot. Hamrlik took Oleg Kvasha's cross-ice pass on the right side and beat
Theodore with a wrist shot at 4:06.
At 4:49, Aucoin moved unchecked down the slot, took Mark Parrish's pass from
the left boards and sent a wrist shot that trickled between Theodore's pads.
The Islanders had two goals on just two shots.
``That was huge for them,'' Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. ``We
knew they were going to come out hard. What we thought was going to happen,
happened. But it's tough to come back from two goals down in this league.''
Then New York scored on three consecutive shots in a 3:23 span late in the
second period to make it 5-0.
As an Islanders penalty was ending, Michael Peca scooted down right wing on
a two-on-one rush with Parrish. Peca waited and crossed the puck to Parrish,
whose one-timer beat Theodore at 16:01.
Hamrlik made it 4-0 with 1:09 left in the period when he moved in from the
point and beat Theodore. Parrish scored with 35.3 seconds remaining.
DiPietro's venture out of the net cost him his fifth career shutout. Jim
Dowd stole the puck and fed Ward in front for a one-timed goal at 8:24 of the
Asked the difference between last year's playoff push, where the Islanders
were hanging on, and this year's run, Parrish cited a boost in confidence.
``This year, we're doing the little things we need to do. Last year, we
weren't playing well or skating well. This year, we're playing playoff hockey
Veteran defenseman Kenny Jonsson said last year's team was confused under
Peter Laviolette, who was fired after the season.
``We're going on a high note right now,'' Jonsson said. ``Last year, we were
struggling all the way through. What's really good this year is that we're
sticking to one system, and we've done so for 80 games now.''