Valiant Effort Comes Up Short
By Kerry Gwydir
Toronto, Ont. (April 30) The Islanders gave everyone in Islander
Country plenty to be proud of during the 2001-02 season, right down
to the final seconds of tonight's game. They went from being the
NHL's last place squad in 2001 to being a 96-point team that grabbed
the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Isles proved to the
hockey world that hockey is back on Long Island.
There were many magical nights this season when the Islanders
overcame all of the odds staring them in the face. Tuesday night came
close to being one of them, as the team came out flying in the third
period and nearly tied it on several occasions.
It was a gutsy effort by Peter Laviolette's squad to push their
series against Toronto to a seventh game. Even though they scored
first in this one, the Isles fell on Tuesday night by a 4-2 score.
Mistakes in the neutral zone and lost defensive coverage cost the
Islanders three goals in this contest during the first two periods.
Early on, Chris Osgood kept it close in the opener.
It didn't take long for the Leafs to muster a superb scoring chance
in the first period. Garry Valk sent Tie Domi in alone just 15
seconds into the game after an Islander turnover in center ice. An
outstanding sprawling save by Osgood kept the Toronto right wing from
jamming home an early goal.
The Islanders received the first powerplay chance of the game when
the Leafs' Paul Healey went off for roughing. It cost the Leafs.
Alexei Yashin recorded his third of the playoffs, roofing a shot over
CuJo's glove. Adrian Aucoin made the key play on the sequence,
patiently waiting out the Leafs to find Yashin alone in front. Roman
Hamrlik also had a hand in things, notching the second assist on the
goal at the 3:41 mark.
Osgood continued to be huge, particularly when Oleg Kvasha was sent
off for roughing eight minutes in. Tomas Kaberle twice had rockets
through screens get blocked off by the Islanders' netminder.
After a near miss down at the Toronto end for Mariusz Czerkawski, who
nearly re-directed a Yashin centering pass behind CuJo, the Leafs
came right down to test the Islander netminder. This time, it was
Alex Mogilny breaking loose down the right wing, only to be foiled
when the Islander goaltender butterflied to eat up the shot and give
up no rebound.
A mass of confusion at center ice turned into a Leafs' goal with 6:33
left in the first. Hamrlik lost his stick and Czerkawski missed on a
stick-check that allowed Gary Roberts to walk in and score. On the
play, Roberts' skate caught Osgood in the knee. The Islander
goaltender would not miss a beat.
The Leafs were pressing, and they had a powerplay opportunity when
Dave Scatchard was called for holding the stick with 4:20 left.
Roberts had the first quality chance, set up in front of Osgood only
to be denied by the netminder's trapper. Then it was an Alyn McCauley
one-timer through a screen that Osgood rejected.
With Hamrlik on the ice injured, the Leafs smelled a goal as they had
two extra men on the ice. The only thing between them and that
mission was Osgood -- who stopped Mogilny on the doorstep, then
somehow got a body part on a Roberts' shot while Hamrlik was down in
the goal crease.
Just 2:37 into the period, Mogilny scored during a delayed penalty to
give Toronto their first lead of the game. Osgood had little chance
as Mogilny had all day to rip home the one-time feed from Robert
Toronto continued to take the play and had another powerplay
opportunity when Jason Blake was penalized for a double-minor high-
sticking penalty on Valk at the four-minute mark of the second. Late
in the second penalty, Osgood made a great save off a Reichel blast,
which was preceded by a great poke-check to thwart a rush by Darren
The Islanders went on the powerplay nine minutes into the second when
the Leafs were called for too many men on the ice. The best
opportunity came when CuJo made a diving glove save off Trent Hunter
while Czerkawski went hard to the net.
Though they didn't score, the Isles immediately went back on the
powerplay when Reichel hauled down Yashin in the offensive zone.
Except for an early point shot from Aucoin, the Islanders did little
offensively during the second man-advantage. It provided a huge swing
of events when the Islanders didn't score.
That's because immediately after that happened, another giveaway at
center ice doomed the Islanders. Travis Green picked up a loose puck
that should have been whacked into the Toronto zone and whisked it by
Osgood with 6:12 left in the second.
The Islanders began to buzz around Toronto's net at the close of the
period and carried that energy into the third. Kip Miller scored a
goal in his fourth consecutive game at the 4:23 mark. Dave Scatchard
and Roman Hamrlik got the helpers on the goal that quieted the
building for the majority of the period.
Yashin almost put one in off Joseph's back at the midway mark of the
Yashin drew a penalty at 12:03 and had the best chance with Kaberle
in the penalty box. He came in alone on Joseph after receiving a
perfect pass from Hamrlik when the Leafs were caught changing, but
his shot hit Joseph's right arm.
Hunter had a great chance when he got past Kaberle and a sliding
Leaf. CuJo made the original save but a quick whistle blew the play
dead before anyone could get to the loose puck by Joseph's skate.
The Islanders had another great scoring opportunity when Yashin and
Bates teamed up by the Toronto net but too many passes cancelled it
Joseph had to make a few more saves when Osgood was pulled for the
extra skater but Mogilny took away Islanders' chance to tie when he
hit the empty net with 40 seconds remaining.
From the Lockerroom
On the effort:
"We gave it all we had. Everyone went out there with all they had.
We're proud of our guys."
On how long it will take to sink in:
"The next while is going to be tough, especially when we wake up
tomorrow with nothing to do. This will be the shortest summer this
team has had in seven years and that's a positive."
On what they could have done differently:
"I think I speak for every guy when I say we gave it everything.
Maybe there are different things we could have done but I don't know
what they would be."
On the feeling:
"It's the toughest part of the season. You realize it's going to end
at some point but this was not the way we wanted it to happen.
"We'll look back and as a whole, we had a great season. It's a tough
way to end the year but we did so many good things, I guess that's
the positive thing."
On the game:
"They played well. In the first period, we were tentative. I don't
think we played our best hockey. In the second, they got two goals.
The third period was do or die. Scoring that second goal was a boost
for us. We had our chances, it was a tough break."
On having many injured players:
"We definitely did but that goes both ways. So did they. That's the
playoffs for you. It's a more intense time of the year. On both
sides, guys were hurting. That's the way it goes."
On processing the end of the season:
"I think it's going to take time. Everyone has a sore spot in their
stomach now. The 'what ifs' are going to come up now as the East is
wide open. We'll just regroup. I know it's a long ways away, but
we'll be better next year."
The Leafs recalled Donald MacLean to take suspended winger Shayne
Cosron's spot in the lineup...
The Islanders scratches were D Kenny Jonsson (concussion, neck
strain), C Michael Peca (ACL tear), LW Brad Isbister (wrist sprain),
C Mats Lindgren, D Dick Tarnstrom, D Radek Martinek (knee surgery)
and Kevin Haller (abdomen)...
On Monday night, Juraj Kolnik scored with under two minutes remaining
in the second overtime to lift the Bridgeport Sound Tigers over the
St. John's Maple Leafs, 3-2, to take a commanding three games to none
lead in their best-of-seven conference semifinal series. The 21-year
old winger beat goaltender Sebastien Centomo with 84 seconds left in
the extra session for his third game-winning goal of the playoffs...
A Happy 27th Birthday to Steve Webb!