Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:
The Islanders entered today’s game with the best power play in the NHL, scoring at a 37% clip. That stat was doomed to come back to earth — although not necessarily all at once — and today it did, as the Islanders failed on all seven of their power plays managing only five shots with the man advantage.
The game would go scoreless for nearly two periods, until the Devils broke through on one of their three powerplays. A shot from the point was blocked on its way towards the Islanders’ net but the puck found its way to Steve Bernier, who slipped it past a sprawled Evgeni Nabokov. From there, the Islanders tried to open up their play in search of an equalizer. It didn’t work, and Bernier would add another goal just over a minute later. The Devils sealed the game at the end of the period with an empty netter.
Devils netminder Johan Hedberg continued to stonewall the Islanders, picking up where he left off last season. Hedberg was 3-0 with a .970 save percentage last year against the Islanders. He continued that dominance with a shutout today, making his biggest save when the game was still scoreless early in the third. Michael Grabner was gifted a shorthanded breakaway by the Devils defense. Grabner broke in all alone on Hedberg, faked and tried to tuck the puck in near the left post. Hedberg made an excellent save, biting on the fake but was able to sprawl all the way across and kick out Grabner’s attempt.
The Islanders showed life at times during today’s game, but much too often they found themselves in a slow back and forth with the Devils. New Jersey had played in Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon and should have been tired, but there didn’t appear to be much separation in the effort of the two teams.
Early in the second Matt Carkner fought New Jersey’s Krys Barch. Both fighters got in good punches and were eventually separated by linesman despite neither fighter falling to the ground. Once in the penalty box, Carkner banged on the glass and waved his arms in an attempt to get his team energized. It didn’t seem to catch on, as the Islanders managed only seven shots in the period.
Next up for the Islanders is a home date with the Penguins on Tuesday night. The Islanders beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh on national TV last Tuesday 4-1. You can bet the Penguins will be looking for revenge when they visit Long Island.