Isles Can't Take Out
By PETER BOTTE
Daily News Sports Writer
Michael Peca looked over the Islanders' upcoming schedule and
He could've chosen the typical captain-speak, but Peca knew seven
straight games against teams on the outside of the NHL playoff
picture represented "an obvious opportunity to move up in the
This one clearly counts as opportunity squandered â" and then some â"
after the Isles overcame two third-period deficits only to fall to
the lowly Thrashers, 4-3, last night at Philips Arena.
"You lose a game to a team you should beat and it's going to sting,"
coach Peter Laviolette said. "It wasn't brutal, but you're playing
Laviolette claimed he "didn't see the intensity" the Isles (29-20-7-
3) displayed in going unbeaten against contenders St.Louis, Toronto,
Philadelphia and Boston on either side of the Olympic break.
Isles defenseman Adrian Aucoin hits Thrashers center Ray Ferraro
during a first-period fight.
Their only two losses since the beginning of February have come
against Minnesota and Atlanta, which entered last night tied with
Columbus for the fewest points in the NHL with 41.
Despite the Isles having two games in hand, the surging Devils trail
them by just two points for the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern
"It seems like we're still taking teams like that a little lightly
and we just can't do that," winger Mark Parrish said of the
Thrashers, who the Isles will face again, tonight at the
Coliseum. "This is a big stretch for us. We can't afford to waste
points against the teams below us."
The Isles spent much of the first period killing penalties, but Garth
Snow maintained a scoreless knot into the second despite 9:37 of
shorthanded time. "It seems like we're not as disciplined and take
more bad penalties against teams like (Atlanta), too," Claude
Rookie goalie Pasi Nurminen nursed a 1-0 lead into the third, before
Patrik Stefan's shorthanded goal with 13:03 put the Isles in a two-
But Kenny Jonsson converted at 8:16; and Peca slammed home an Atlanta
turnover for his fourth in three games just 70 seconds later.
Yannick Tremblay and Adrian Aucoin (power play) also traded goals by
14:30, but Tremblay beat Snow on a hard-angle slapper for his second
of the period and the game-winner with 3:03 remaining.
Charity Begins at Home: Isles alumni will face Port Authority Police
Hockey team in charity game at 1 p.m. today at Coliseum to benefit
families of PAPD members killed or missing from Sept.11 terrorist
attacks. ... LW Brad Isbister (day-to-day, back strain) was
scratched, with Kip Miller starting on Alexei Yashin's left wing.
Steve Webb (hand) also returned after two-month absence.