Devils give it away
Saturday, February 10, 2001
By MARK J. CZERWINSKI
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Devils knew this was going to happen. They
said coming in that they were braced for a tooth-and-nail battle with
an awful Islanders team that always seems to save its best efforts
for these games.
And yet, the Devils found a way to let two points slip away Wednesday
night at Nassau Coliseum. A 3-2 loss to the Islanders, the team with
the worst record in the NHL, is sure to give these guys plenty to
think about during the four-day All-Star holiday that begins today.
"Obviously, we gave them the game," said captain Scott Stevens. "We
gift-wrapped a couple of goals."
You can file this one under "Great Mysteries of the NHL." Incredibly,
the Devils have picked up only four of a possible eight points
against the Islanders this season, and they needed two ties to even
get that much.
Want to rub some salt in the Devils' wounds? Then remind them that a
win here would've pushed them past idle Ottawa and into first place
overall in the Eastern Conference standings.
"You've got to admit that we were in complete control until those
five minutes in the second period," said center Bobby Holik. "Then we
just let them have the game."
The Devils outshot the Islanders, 14-2, in the first period. They
were leading, 2-0, on goals by Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora.
And then they got lazy.
Colin White turned the puck over deep in his zone at 7:22 of the
second period, and, in a blink of an eye, Dave Scatchard put it in to
make it 2-1.
Sixteen seconds later, Holik was knocked off the puck by Mark Parrish
and Tim Connolly tied the score.
"We were in total control," said coach Larry Robinson. "Then we gave
them two goals and stopped playing aggressive like we were in the
first period. We sat back, and the next thing you know, you're
fighting for your life at the end hoping to get one by [John]
"We didn't score the third goal to knock them to their knees," Holik
said. "But we gave them two goals. After that, they had all the life
they could get."
And the Islanders, who hadn't rallied from a 2-0 hole all season,
used every drop of that life. Elias was in the penalty box for
roughing as the Islanders took their 3-2 lead at 4:59 of the third
Parrish drove down the left side right at Stevens, throwing the
Devils captain off balance with an awkward pass across the front of
Stevens swiped at the puck, but couldn't prevent Brad Isbister from
slamming it past Chris Terreri for his 17th goal of the season.
Stevens punctuated the play by smashing his stick over the net.
"We shouldn't be giving up a two-on-one [break] on the penalty kill,"
Stevens said. "He [Parrish] got a little lucky because I don't think
he knew the other guy was there. He just kind of lost the puck."
Bad break? Maybe. But the Devils put themselves in the position where
a fluky play could do them in.
That's happened more than once in the last week or so, which is
something for these guys to think about while they are sunning
themselves in the Caribbean or frolicking with their kids.
"We've got to be smart and know how to play with a lead," Stevens
said. "We haven't done that in a while, and that's disturbing."
* * *
Sykora, who has 19 goals, has six goals and 11 points in his last
seven games. Elias, who has 20 goals, has three goals and eight
points in his last five games.
Robinson said he never considered having the Devils practice today in
an effort to teach them a lesson after such a
performance. "Hopefully, they're smart enough to know better than
this," Robinson said.
Alexander Mogilny was held scoreless for the third straight game.
It's the first time since early December that he's gone that long
The Devils resume practicing Monday, and play Tuesday night in