Sunday the Devils lost by a goal to the Islanders and that seemed to turn their mindset around. After that game, they went to the media and critiqued themselves more than their opponents. Goaltender Marty Brodeur said "we have to play harder because it will bite you in this league if you don’t. We just didn’t create much offense.” And then there was Zach Parise on NHL Network after the game; "[The Isles] could have put in a pee-wee goalie in there and gotten the same results, we just did not challenge them with enough shots."
Like the quotes or not, New Jersey righted their ship this week with two wins over the Rangers and Islanders by a combined score of 9-2. Tonight against the Islanders it was a well played game for about two periods before things came unglued for the visiting Islanders. Through the magic of Kovalchuk, the Devils held a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. The 101 million-dollar man had two goals off of one-timers, with solid setups coming from his teammates. The first required him to bat in a rebound after the one-timer but the second was a pure power play snipe. The Islanders would bring the lead to within one during the second, as Andy MacDonald found the back of the net from behind the red line, banking in a shot off of Brodeur. But that goal, part luck and part bankshot would be as much as the Islanders got.
In the third, New Jersey put the pedal to the floor and fired home three even strength goals to waltz away with the win (with one goal coming on a 6-on-5 delayed penalty). Kovalchuk would notch the hat trick, getting goal support for David Clarkson and Patrick Elias. On the receiving end was Evgeni Nabokov, making only 15 saves on 20 shots. Nabokov wasn't particularly sharp but got hung out to dry on an amazing amount of one-timers. A little body or a stick in some passing lanes could have done wonders.
NOTES: - The Islanders surprisingly healthy scratched Michael Grabner for this game, replacing him with Nino Niederreiter. Grabner did miss Sunday's game due to injury but was still held out last night. Whether this is motivation or not, he's certainly an interesting candidate for a scratch. Grabner hasn't been playing well, not nearly matching his offensive output from a season ago. Maybe a little motivation is a good thing but there are certainly other players on the team worthy of a night off.
- File this one under things we've heard fairly often this season...
Capuano clearly not happy with aspects of the game. Said, without naming names, "we can't have passengers." #isles— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) March 9, 2012
- No matter what the reasons were for Nabokov's troubles, Anders Nilsson more than deserves another shot against the Devils when the two teams face off again on Saturday. His shutout certainly earned him another shot, so why not make it against a somewhat familiar foe?