Following a remarkable 5-0 shutout of the Washington Capitals in the nation’s capital, the goose egg was returned back to New Jersey in Long Island as rookie goaltender Anders Nilsson and the New York Islanders shutout the Devils 1-0. Defensively, the Devils did not perform up to their expectations and the offense just had no answer for Nilsson.
In the early going, things seemed to be going the Devils’ way. The Clarkson-Zubrus-Josefson line seemed to dominate play. Around the 7 minute point of the match, the Isles were completely pinned in their zone but that pressure soon came to an end as a Zach Parise shot was stopped by Nilsson. Later, Marty Brodeur made a key stop on John Tavares but just moments after, Bryce Salvador cleared the puck over the glass, causing the Devils to go on the penalty kill at around the 6:37 point. Brodeur continued to make key saves on this Islander power play, which kept pressure in the Devils’ zone. Fortunately, New Jersey was able to kill the penalty off and some final rushes by Kovalchuk did not result in any goals. After one, the game was scoreless and the Islanders had a 10-6 shots-on-goal edge (where Kovy had half of NJ’s shots).
Early turnovers and soft play really hurt the Devils. At the 18:40 mark itself, Islander captain Mark Streit shot a puck wide but was only inches from giving the Islanders a 1-0 edge. However, Patrik Elias responded by nearly putting the puck through Nilsson at the 18:00 point. As the offensive forays went back and forth, the Islanders drew first blood. At the 17:21 point, Kyle Okposo scored his 15th of the year assisted by Casey Cizikas. It seemed that Mark Fayne had a crucial chance to tie the game up at 1 a piece but his drive was blocked by an Islander in front of the net. The Devils were just playing sloppy afterwards. Near the midway point of the period, New Jersey had to kill off a 5-on-3 penalty. Successfully, they killed both the 5-on-3 and the ensuing 5-on-4 after. It seemed as if Zach Parise was hit by Milan Jurcina of the Isles, causing him to go the bench and lean over in discomfort. However, Parise would come back for the Devils’ one and only power play of the match, which only resulted in one shot on goal. Before the period ended, Matt Taormina took a penalty with just 15 seconds. The Islander did not do anything (as they only had 15 seconds left). Shots on goal after two were 18-12, in favor of the Isles.
New Jersey was able to kill of the 1:45 of Islander power play time carried over from the second period. David Ullstrom was stopped by Brodeur at the 18:50 point of the period. This period was more physical and had many skirmishes & brawls after both Nilsson and Brodeur froze the pucks. The most key skirmish happened at the 14:50 mark, where Steve Bernier was stopped by Nilsson and soon got into a short battle with Steve Staios of the Isles. Both were given 2 minute roughing penalties. John Tavares was later stopped on a breakaway at the 14:31 mark but the ensuing call was a bit suspicious. The referee called Bryce Salvador for hooking but this could be debated as a bad call from the ref. From this point, though no goals were scored (penalty was killed), the Devils didn’t have much to any push getting the equalizer. Several missed passes cost them their chances. An impressive defensive play late in the period by Marek Zidlicky saved an empty netter but the Devils just failed to tie the game. New York and Anders Nilsson successfully shut out the Devils 1-0.
- Anders Nilsson (NYI)
- Kyle Okposo (NYI)
- Casey Cizikas (NYI)
– Petr Sykora played his 1000th NHL game. Many critics doubted his ability to even return to the NHL so this milestone was very special to him, even though the Devils could not win the match. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Andy Greene were scratches (Matt Taormina replaced Greene). Anders Nilsson was the net-minder rather than Evgeni Nabokov. This match was the first out of 6 consecutive matches for the Devils against Atlantic Division teams. In the early minutes of the match, there seemed to be a lighting problem in the Coliseum. New Jersey was a perfect 5/5 on the PK this afternoon. Attendance was 16,250 (sellout)
Next Game: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 vs. the Rangers @ The Rock at 7 pm.
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