Isles' late surge falls short in season-opening loss to Devils
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Despite a late game surge, the Islanders could not find a way to beat Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils in their season opener at Nassau Coliseum.
A few defensive break downs cost the Isles big time, as the Devils took advantage to score both the team’s goals. Ilya Kovalchuck was able to take advantage of a sprawling Mark Streit and lift the puck over him to find Travis Zajac, who scored the game’s opening goal 14:01 into the second period. David Clarkson was able to score the game-winning goal on a giveaway.
On the other end, Brodeur played a brilliant game, stopping 19 of the 20 shots the Islanders threw at him. The lone goal that got by him was a wide-open shot by Travis Hamonic. The Devils collapsed into the corner to try to get the puck loose from an Islander player. Eventually it found its way to Michael Grabner, who quickly moved it to Hamonic who had a one-on-one shot on Brodeur.
“Grabby made a great play,” Hamonic said after the game. “I just tried to find some open space and he found me in the right spot. It’s nice to capitalize on that one, but (I’m) probably more frustrated that the next shift I had another chance right in the slot and I could have tied up the game and I missed that one.”
Expectedly, the game started off a bit sloppy. The Islanders had trouble passing the puck effectively and at times got hemmed in their own zone, giving New Jersey more chances than fill0in head coach Doug Weight would have liked.
“We were sloppy,” Weight, who was filling in for Jack Capuano due to medical reasons, said. “We were a little excited. D-to-D, (we were) trying to get the puck up with some speed and trying to put it in good spots. I think Marty had five or six breakouts himself in the first period and that’s too easy for him… It was a rough start for us.”
Matt Martin agreed with his coach’s assessment of the game.
“We came out a little flat out of the gate,” he said. “We got better as the game went on, but they kind of took it to us in the first period. We expect more of ourselves.”
Luckily for the Islanders there is a quick turnaround. They will host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday at 1 p.m. before leaving on a five-game road trip.
“We have a quick turn around to Tampa Bay,” Hamonic said. “I think we have to take those lessons that we can learn out of tonight and apply them to next game.”
It is unclear who will start in net for the Islanders on Monday. Weight wouldn’t name a starter after Saturday night’s loss, but was complimentary of Nabokov’s play against New Jersey.