Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders (5-12-5) gave themselves something to be thankful for and snapped a 14 game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils (7-13-2) in hockey action on Friday afternoon.
“You know what I’m just happy for the guys. I thought we played extremely well in Atlanta and against Columbus, and we didn’t get rewarded the point. It’s a good feeling for the boys,” said head coach Jack Capuano when asked how his first NHL victory felt.
In a feisty, hard hitting game between the two Metropolitan rivals as the hits as it didn’t take long for fireworks to ignite between these two teams. Then it was Jesse Joensuu (1) who tallied the first goal of the game at the 1:32 mark. The winger connected on his first goal of the season with some nice passing from Frans Nielsen (10) and Michael Grabner (3) to give the Islanders the early advantage.
“I actually lost the puck in the neutral zone there. I got it back and gave it to Martinek.” Joensuu said of his first goal of the season. “He gave it to Grabner, and I just thought about skating to the net, and then Grabner gave it to Frans. I saw I was open at that point in time and called for the puck. It was a great play. I think it went right through the legs of one of the d-men.”
Eventually tensions boiled over between the two teams and the first fight broke out at the 11:49 mark of the first period. The fight happened right after Colin White laid out a huge hit on P.A. Parenteau that was eventually ruled as a boarding call by the officials. Bruno Gervais took exception to White’s hit and eventually decided to drop gloves with the veteran blue-liner.
White didn’t take very long to be victorious in the scrap taking just two punches before being victorious.
The scrape along with the boarding gave the Islanders their second power play opportunity in the game, but the Islanders could not cash in on the three minute opportunity. Joensuu took another good shot at the 17:48 mark of the first period, but the snap shot was saved by Devils keeper Johan Hedberg.
Islanders keeper Rick DiPietro was strong early in the first period making several impressive stops, including a glove save on a wicked 17 foot slap shot by Jason Arnott at the 18:29 mark, holding his team to a 1-0 lead. The Islanders also out shot New Jersey by a tally of 13-5, while also out hitting the Devils, 14-3 in a strong first period of play.
New York continued to keep up their offensive momentum along with playing a very good defensive side of the ice. New York was able to kill off the Devils first power play of the game at the 2:19 mark, as the Islanders were able to keep the Devils out of their offensive zone.
Rob Schremp (2) then netted the second Islanders goal at the 5:15 mark in the second period. Connecting on a 13 foot wrist shot that was assisted by Blake Comeau (7) and James Wisniewski (12) to give the Islanders the 2-0 lead.
Both team had some stellar opportunities as at the 10:04 mark David Clarkson let off a 25 foot snap shot that was saved by Rick DiPietro. The Islanders had a golden opportunity at the 11:54 mark as John Tavares was inches away from netting the third goal, but the puck was saved by Devils keeper Johan Hedberg.
The scrapes and hard hits would continue on into the second period as the Islanders skated into the locker room with the 2-0 lead much to the delight of the 10,897 in attendance. The Islanders also held the shots advantage by a tally of 19-16.
New Jersey was able to gain the offensive momentum in the third period of play, but could not cash in on any goals as DiPietro was stellar in his shutout bid and New York skated away with the 2-0 victory. The keeper, who was awarded with the first star of the game ended the night with 29 saves. On the other end of the ice Devils keeper Johan Hedberg made 18 saves.
“Ricky’s played extremely well since I’ve been here,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano. “He’s done real well in practice and it’s carried over in the last few games that he’s played.”
DiPietro would have this to say on the victory, “I think it’s a culmination of a lot of hard work over the last couple of weeks. The hard work was there, but there were a lot of mistakes. Today we ended those mistakes, created some chances and had a huge win.”
One of the biggest keys to the victory for the Islanders was killing off a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Devils in the third period of play.
“It was huge for us. We talked about it going into the third: stay out of the penalty box and limit turnovers,” Blake Comeau said of the penalty kill. “It was just a tough break. Wiz (James Wisniewski) was going for the puck and got his stick up, but you get a 5-on-3 kill like that and kill off the whole four-minute power play. It goes to show that we’re battling hard and it’s good to finally see the results.”
DiPietro also had this to say of the 5-on-3 penalty kill,” It was huge. It is kills like that, that can turn a whole season around. I could feel the energy in the building and the energy on the bench. I think that’s a big thing for us. Our team feeds off energy.”
The next test for the Islanders is to see if they can take that energy and convert it to a couple of victories in a row. New York will now enjoy a few days off before hosting their next Metropolitan Rival in the New York Rangers for a home-and-home series. The Islanders will host the Rangers on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. then will go to Madison Square Garden for a 7:00 p.m. face-off.
“We can’t be satisfied with just one win. We can’t act like we’ve won 14 in a row. We have to realize on what got us success tonight,” said Blake Comeau on what needs to be done next. “Moving forward we have to play three hard periods.”
Coach Capuano also had this to say of the steps the Islanders need to take now, “There’s a lot of ground to make up. For me, it is just one practice at a time, one game at a time. That’s all I’m looking at right now.”
Charity note: Prior to both Wednesday night’s game against Columbus and Friday afternoon game against the Devils the Islanders hosted a food drive with Island Harvest to help put a big hit on hunger this Thanksgiving. Fans were encouraged to bring three or more non-perishable food items and received one ticket voucher for a future Islanders game.