Blake Does It To Buffalo, Again
Islanders 2, Sabres 1 (OT)
By Kerry Gwydir
(March 1) Jason Blake did it again to the Buffalo Sabres.
Like on New Year's Eve when the sparkplug netted an extra frame winner
in a 1-0 victory, Blake scored 2:42 into overtime to give the
Islanders a huge 2-1 win over Buffalo on Saturday.
Miroslav Satan tied the game with 4:53 left in regulation to put this
game in overtime. Shawn Bates scored an unassisted goal, his 12th of
the season as Garth Snow got the win with a huge 32-save effort.
Buffalo, coming off a big win over Dallas on Friday, controlled the
early moments of this game and were outshooting the Islanders, 8-1,
nine minutes into the night.
The Islander penalty kill unit extinguished an early powerplay just a
minute in on a holding penalty call on Oleg Kvasha when the forward
took down Buffalo's Alexei Zhitnik in the slot.
Two minutes later, the Sabres managed another good scoring opportunity
when Alan Letang lost his stick in his own zone. The Sabres played the
puck down low, eventually getting a chance to the right post that was
smothered by Snow.
The best Isles' scoring opportunity in the opening period came when
Kvasha flipped the puck out of his zone into center ice. Roman Hamrlik
beat Brian Campbell to the puck and chipped it up the right wing
boards. With Buffalo closing in, Alexei Yashin tried a snapshot from
the top of the right circle that Mika Noronen gobbled up.
Radek Martinek tried a long slapper through a screen with five minutes
left that Noronen fought off. Yashin found a way to dig the puck out
from behind the net and fed the right point for the blast.
Hamrlik had to be helped off the ice with four minutes left when he
blocked off a Miroslav Satan shot. During the course of trying to
shake off the pain, he was called for cross-checking. Hamrlik returned
for the second period and did not miss a beat. Jason Blake had the
best scoring chance during that timeframe, a break-in down the slot
that Noronen saved with his right pad.
Buffalo tested Snow early in the second with a rocket from Jason
Botterill that the goaltender blocked off with his shoulder. The
rebound came right out front, but Shawn Bates made a key play in tying
up Stu Barnes' open-net rebound attempt. Then Mark Parrish checked JP
Dumont as the puck came through the slot again.
It turned out to be a big shift for Bates, who potted his 12th of the
season by ripping a slapper from the top of the right faceoff dot over
Noronen's blocker at the 1:21 mark. Bates picked off Buffalo
defenseman Rhett Warrener's cross-ice pass at the Sabres' blueline and
walked in to pot the opportunity.
Buffalo missed a prime chance to tie the game seven minutes in when a
defensive breakdown nearly cost the Isles. Curtis Brown danced through
the Islander defense and had Snow dead-to-rites on the doorstep. Brown
tried a backhander on the open side of the cage, but missed the net.
The hitting began to pick up at this stage of the game. Michael Peca
caught Buffalo's Campbell and sent him flying at the red line. Arron
Asham followed that up with a heavy body check that floored Zhitnik to
the ice. Dumont got a measure of revenge for the visitors 30 seconds
later when he thumped Kvasha to the ice near the penalty boxes.
Yashin missed a great opportunity of his own nine minutes in when
Bates walked in on a 2-on-1. Bates feathered a hard feed across the
slot, but Yashin could not handle it as Noronen was caught out of the
Asham had a great opportunity stoned with eight minutes left in the
second when Peca sent him in alone on Noronen. The Buffalo netminder
got his trapper on the shot as Asham closed in after the Islander
captain forced a turnover in the left wing corner.
Turnovers by the Sabres continued to provide the Islanders quality
chances in the offensive end of the ice. A giveaway by Dmitri Kalinin
at his own blueline off a pokecheck by Peca set up a blast by the
captain from the top of the slot. Noronen butterflied to make the
first stop and then pushed aside Blake's rebound whack at the airborne
A back-and-forth display of skating to begin the third put the
Islander faithful on the edge of their seats five minutes in when
Buffalo came close to tying the game on a Botterill in-close chance.
The Buffalo left wing tried a sharp-angled shot that Snow stopped with
his left pad, but the puck pinged around the goal line before the
goaltender jumped on it as the Sabres dug away.
On the next shift, Blake turned nearly made something out of nothing
by making a 1-on-1 rush with Kalinin back a near break-in opportunity.
The right winger pushed the puck through the Sabre blueliner's skates
and had a lane to the net. Fighting off the checking, Blake unleashed
a forehander that beat Noronen, but skimmed the outside of the cage.
The Islanders were left scratching their heads for much of the first
10 minutes of the third. They were offered many scoring chances and
odd-man rushes as it the Sabres on the defensive. But somehow, Buffalo
continued to dodge bullets. One particular instance occurred off
another 2-on-1, this time with Jason Wiemer, who wrested a shot that
Noronen stopped with his right pad. But the puck dribbled into the
crease where Blake was churning. As the Islander took a whack, the
puck bounced over his stick.
With a powerplay soon thereafter, Yashin had a pair of opportunities
from inside the hashmarks that Noronen blocked off. Peca also managed
a 2-on-1 down low that missed the net just wide.
That lack of finish hurt the Islanders, as a faceoff win by Curtis
Brown off an offensive zone faceoff turned into a tie game with
Miroslav Satan getting the goal off a screen. Snow appeared to not see
the puck as a sea of jerseys obstructed his view as Satan's long
snapshot eluded him over the right shoulder with 4:53 left to play.
The Islanders still had a chance to take both points in regulation.
With 20 seconds left, another 2-on-1 opportunity presented itself for
the Islanders. Noronen made another superb rejection, this time on
Blake who received Dave Scatchard's centering pass and was alone in
the slot. The right wing tried for the five-hole, but was denied by
the Buffalo goaltender's stick.
The chances kept coming in the extra frame. The Islanders hit the post
on one opportunity and then missed wide on another. Yet, it was Blake
who'd come through.
A defensive play by Mattias Timander to tip a centering pass from
behind the Islander net started the game-winning sequence. Buffalo's
Barnes was all alone in front looking for a centering feed. He missed
and Blake was off to the races the other way on a 2-on-1. The right
wing held the puck and potted his 20th of the year over Noronen's
UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- After passing up a scoring
opportunity late in the third period, Jason Blake learned from
his mistake in overtime and buried the game-winner.
Blake scored his 20th goal 2:42 into overtime and Garth Snow
made 36 saves as the New York Islanders snapped a three-game
winless skid with a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
The left wing came down on a rush with Dave Scatchard on his
right. He waited for Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell to go
down before beating rookie goaltender Mika Noronen with a shot
to the stick side.
In the same situation late in regulation, Blake passed to
Scatchard, whose shot was stopped by Noronen.
"You can't score unless you shoot," Blake said. "I kind of
second-guessed myself (in the third period). I said, `Hey, I
have to shoot this one.' Fortunately, it went in."
Miroslav Satan tied it with 4:53 left in the third period with
his 23rd goal. After Curtis Brown won a draw, Campbell left the
puck at the blue line and Satan ripped a slap shot past Snow to
stretch his points streak to five games.
"The puck was laying there for me, so I just shot it," Satan
said. "I wasn't looking for a spot. If I put it on net,
somebody might get a rebound. But it went in."
Satan tried to take something positive from the Sabres' latest
"It's unfortunate that we lost the game in overtime, but we
still have to be happy with the point," he said. "We played a
lot of games lately. We didn't have the most life today, but we
kept batting through that. We showed the character."
Snow is 4-1-2 in his last seven starts.
"There was traffic," he said of Satan's goal. "I saw it at the
last minute, but someone said it hit off someone's back. I
tried to reach, but I looked the wrong way."
"It looked like Garth was screened and didn't see it," New York
coach Peter Laviolette added. "(Satan) scored it in the top
corner. Still, there was five minutes to go and we had a couple
of more chances."
Shawn Bates opened the scoring just 81 seconds into the game
with his 12th goal. He picked off a cross-ice pass by
defenseman Rhett Warrener at Buffalo's blue line, strode into
the zone and fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle
over Noronen's blocker.
Bates has scored in three games in a row and has recorded points
in six straight.
The Islanders improved to 4-0-2 in their last six home games.
They also raised their overtime record to 5-2-8.
"I felt we got back to basics in our own end and made it
uncomfortable for the opposing team in the slot," Snow said.
"Whether it was giving a tug or whacking a stick, they didn't
have as much time to make a play in the slot. It was a
"It's always a tough game, the Buffalo game," Laviolette said.
"It's tight-checking. There's not a lot of flows, never a clean
play or an easy play. But the guys fought through it. We all
knew we had to get two points."
Recalled recently from the minors, Noronen, turned aside 31
shots in his first start for Buffalo since December 23. He
remained winless at 0-7-1.
"Mika gave us an excellent game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
"He put us in a position to win."
The Sabres fell to 11-16-3-2 in back-to-back games, going 3-9-2
in the second game.
"This is one of the toughest parts of the season," Ruff said.
"I thought we matched them and exceeded them energy-wise for a
good period of the game. It was a good effort."
Converts a final chance into overtime victory for Isles
By Alan Hahn
March 2, 2003
Jason Blake had his chances, chances he might have lamented had he not
gotten at least one more. When he got that last chance he buried it,
becoming the Islanders hero in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Buffalo
Sabres last night at Nassau Coliseum.
Blake scored the game-winner off a two-on-one break with Dave
Scatchard at 2:42 of OT. He skated up the left side and beat goalie
Mika Noronen to the short side.
He did so after earlier in the game whiffing on a bouncing rebound at
the doorstep and being stopped by Noronen on a rush with Scatchard in
the third period.
Blake said those missed opportunities did not stick with him as much
as when he and Jason Wiemer had a two-on-one chance and he opted to
pass to Wiemer, but the puck skipped between Wiemer's skates.
"I second-guessed myself on that one," Blake said, "so I said I'm
going to shoot [the game-winner]." The shot gave Blake his 20th goal
of the season, a career-high. It also gave the seventh-place Islanders
(70 points) an extra point in the standings as they maintained a
six-point lead over ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff
standings. They face that ninth-place team - the Rangers - tomorrow at
"It's going to be a battle," said Shawn Bates, who had the opening goal.
Last night was no little skirmish. The Sabres, well out of contention
practically since November, as usual gave the Isles a tough game. And
both teams failed to convert on several quality chances and several
empty nets as the puck did a lot of dancing on the choppy Coliseum ice.
The Islanders started slowly but gained energy as the game went on.
Coach Peter Laviolette gave his weary team Friday off and canceled
yesterday's morning skate.
"I think we did have some energy," Laviolette said. "It took us a
little to get going."
Goalie Garth Snow, who had 36 saves) made up for any fatigue mistakes
early and late in the game. After a scoreless first period, in which
the Islanders were outshot 8-1 in the first 6:43, Bates got the
Islanders a much-needed 1-0 lead at 1:21 in the second. Rhett Warrener
attempted an ill-advised cross-ice pass along his own blue line and
Bates stepped in from the neutral zone to intercept it. He took two
strides over the line and fired a shot over Noronen's right shoulder
for his third goal in as many games.
The teams then exchanged failed chances for the rest of the game, as
it opened up into an entertaining end-to-end contest. Alexei Yashin
once again had quality shots (he finished with a team-high six), but
could not put the puck in the net. Blake and his linemates generated
"Halfway through the third period, I was nervous," Laviolette said,
"because we had too many chances." His emotions proved correct when
the Sabres tied it with less than five minutes to play in regulation.
Curtis Brown beat Claude Lapointe on a faceoff in the Islanders zone
and Brian Campbell fed the puck to dangerous sniper Miroslav Satan.
His blast from the left circle sailed through a screen and past Snow
at 15:07 to tie it. Both teams traded chances in the overtime period
before Blake finally put the game away and kept the Islanders rolling
forward. They are now 6-2-3 in their past 11 games and 4-1-2 in their
INSIDE GAME 64
RECORD: 30-24-8-2 LAST SEASON: 31-23-7-3
PLUS: A Long Island family won $3,199 as part of an arena contest when
Shawn Bates scored 1:21 into the second period. When was the last time
a fan left with more money than he had when he arrived?
PLUS: Nassau Coliseum is starting to fill up again - last night's
crowd was just short of a sellout - and the Islanders are making the
most of it. They are unbeaten in six straight at home.
TV: FSNY, MSG
Radio: ESPN (1050),
Panthers Have Interest in Unproductive Isbister
March 2, 2003
As the March 11 trade deadline nears, Brad Isbister's days as an
Islander appear to be numbered. The disappointing, unproductive left
winger (10 goals, 12 assists, minus-7) was penciled in as a top-liner
but has found himself on the fourth line.
He had been shopped around with little interest. Now Florida and
Edmonton appear ready to take him. Panthers coach Mike Keenan recently
has hinted that Isbister is a player he'd like to have, figuring he
can awaken the 25-year-old the way he did former Islander Olli Jokinen
this season. Florida GM Rick Dudley has been in touch with Mike
Milbury about him. "If the right thing is out there, like a big,
physical guy who's got the potential to score 30 goals, we'd be
interested," Dudley said, describing Isbister's potential.
In return for Isbister, the Islanders would like second-year winger
Kristian Huselius. Thus far, Dudley has said no to an
Isbister-for-Huselius deal. Huselius, a runner-up for the Calder
Trophy last season, scored against the Rangers last night for just his
third goal since December. Still, he is talented and, most importantly
to the Islanders, a lefty. If not Huselius, the Panthers have steady
Swedish defenseman Andreas Lilja.
Kenny Jonsson missed last night's game with a knee sprain suffered in
Thursday's 3-3 tie with the Devils. A team spokesman said Jonsson is
day-to-day, but it was reported on last night's telecast that it is a
two-to- three-week time frame. Defenseman Roman Hamrlik went down in
the first period after taking a shot on the right ankle. He returned
in the second period . . . Alan Letang, Sven Butenschon and Eric
Godard were recalled from Bridgeport yesterday and played.
BLAKE PROVIDES MUCH-NEEDED LIFT
By EVAN GROSSMAN
March 2, 2003 -- Peter Laviolette gave the Islanders the last two days
off because he sensed his team was both mentally and physically
exhausted and in need of a spark.
So against the Sabres, the worst team in the league, and without Kenny
Jonsson (knee sprain) for the first of what is expected to be up to
three weeks of games, that spark came in the form of Jason Blake's
20th goal of the year in a 2-1 overtime victory that should have never
been that close.
The problem last night wasn't so much the Islanders not skating with
their penniless opponents - as in Thursday's draw with the Devils - as
much as it was the fact they couldn't hit anything but the Buffalo
logo on Mika Noronen's chest.
"We had a lot of chances to score goals tonight - empty nets, rebound
chances, someone taking the goalie side-to-side and having an
opportunity to put it in and bouncing over the stick," Laviolette
said. "It was not smooth out there. Halfway through the third period I
was nervous because we had so many chances to score and make it 2-0 or
And so, the Islanders turned to their most energetic player as Blake
nailed the winner with 2:18 left in the extra session on a night when
it seemed like the grating winger and the rest of his teammates
couldn't have put a puck into a soccer net.
"You've got to keep shooting," Blake said.
Alexei Yashin, playing on right wing and finally being lifted from his
fourth-line duties, had several point-blank and wide open chances
gobbled up by the green Buffalo goaltender, who came into the game
with an 0-6-1 record. Blake had three golden chances, including a fat
2-on-1 feed from Dave Scatchard with less than a minute left in
regulation that found nothing but Noronen's pads.
At the other end, the Isles were the gracious benefactors of some
equally sloppy play by their opponents, who wasted just as many golden
opportunities to beat Garth Snow (36 saves).
Shawn Bates, who centered the top line last night between Yashin and
Oleg Kvasha, put the Isles on the board 1:21 into the second period.
For his third goal in as many games and sixth point (3-3-6) in the
last six, Bates picked off Rhett Warrener's errant pass at the Buffalo
blue line and rifled a slap shot from a stride inside the zone high
over Noronen's blocker.
Buffalo knotted it with 4:53 left in the third on Miroslav Satan's
drive from the right circle off a faceoff Curtis Brown won from Claude
Lapointe deep in the Islanders' zone.
"I think we all knew we had to get two points," Laviolette said with a
potential standings-altering match coming up next against the Rangers
at the Garden tomorrow.
ISLANDERS 2, SABRES 1, OVERTIME
Islanders Have to Earn Their Points Against Sabres
By DAVE CALDWELL
UNIONDALE, N.Y., March 1 Jason Blake returned to the Islanders'
bench after a flubbed scoring chance and slammed the door, as if that
would help. Blake soon decided the worst thing he could do was look
for assists instead of goals.
"You can't score unless you shoot," he said.
Blake's fourth shot of the game, and his first of overtime, went right
into the net. He picked off a pass in his zone, raced up the ice with
Dave Scatchard, then beat Buffalo goaltender Mika Noronen to lift the
Islanders to a 2-1 victory tonight at Nassau Coliseum.
Blake's 20th goal of the season, 2 minutes 42 seconds into overtime,
gave the Islanders (30-24-8-2) a boost as they headed into their
toughest week of the season. They will play the Rangers, Tampa Bay,
Boston and the Devils in the next seven days.
"Right now I'm not trying to look past the next opponent," said
Islanders goaltender Garth Snow, who stopped 36 of 37 shots tonight.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for the players in here to put
the chips on the table and play a great, team-oriented game."
The Rangers, the Lightning and the Bruins are battling with the
Islanders for a playoff berth, and the Devils are fighting for the
best record in the Eastern Conference, but Islanders Coach Peter
Laviolette made it sound as if his team would be prepared. "I think
Buffalo gives us the hardest game out of anyone in the league,"
The Islanders let a 1-0 lead slip away when Miroslav Satan scored his
23rd goal of the season with 4:53 left in regulation for the Sabres
(19-31-8-6). "We were kind of frustrated we even gave them one,"
Islanders right wing Mark Parrish said.
But one goal was all Buffalo got. The Islanders, who had been off
since Thursday's 3-3 tie with the Devils, were sluggish at the start
and sloppy at the end of regulation, but they found their energy in
overtime. They are 6-2-3-0 since Feb. 8. It was the second time the
Islanders beat the Sabres in overtime this season.
"It was tough to get our legs underneath us," Blake said.
The Islanders got a free goal at 1:21 of the second period. Sabres
center Stu Barnes had pushed a shot wide of Snow and Buffalo
defenseman Rhett Warrener controlled the puck in his zone.
Warrener tried a cross-ice pass to Barnes at the Sabres' blue line,
but Shawn Bates intercepted it. He took a stride, then fired a shot
that went over Noronen's stick and in. It was Bates's 12th goal of the
season and his third in three games.
"It's been a struggle scoring goals this year," Bates said, "but we'll
take them any way they come as long as we win."
One of the Islanders' most effective lines was a new combination with
Bates at center, Oleg Kvasha on his left wing and the struggling
Aleksei Yashin on the right.
"Oleg wasn't feeling too comfortable at center, and Bates seemed like
a natural fit," Laviolette said.
Buffalo scored in the third. Curtis Brown won a face-off with Claude
Lapointe in the Islanders' zone and slid the puck to Brian Campbell.
Satan took a shot that went in after sailing over Lapointe's back and
Despite the absence of defenseman Kenny Jonsson, who is out
indefinitely after spraining his knee against the Devils, the
Islanders clamped down on Buffalo when they had to. The Sabres had
four shots in overtime. The Islanders had two.
Blake's shot was the only one of the six that went in. "It was nice to
see him cash in when it really counts," Laviolette said.
The Islanders will next play the Rangers, who have won two straight,
on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Tampa Bay took the lead in
the Southeast Conference tonight by beating Ottawa, so the Islanders
are a point behind the new sixth-place team in the Eastern Conference,
Everyone seems to be hunting points, which ratchets up the
Rangers-Islanders rivalry. Parrish said that should curtail the
histrionics. Everyone needs to play smart.
"I know we're playing the Rangers, but it doesn't matter who we're
playing," Blake said.
With heat on Isles,
Blake wins it in OT
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Tomorrow it will be the Rangers. The next night, the Lightning.
Thursday there's a trip to Boston.
With three games this week against teams they are competing against
for the final three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the
Islanders couldn't afford to waste any points against a Buffalo squad
that always gives them fits, but which entered tied for the lowest
point total in the NHL.
Jason Blake made sure the surging Isles got the two points they
desired with his second overtime tally against the Sabres this season,
securing an important 2-1 victory last night at Nassau Coliseum.
"Huge. We needed to win this game," Blake said after reaching the
20-goal mark for the first time in his career. "Every team has a tough
month on their schedule and for us it's March, by far. Things can
change every day."
The seventh-seeded Isles, who play 12 of their final 18 games on the
road and all but two against teams in playoff contention, have lost
once in their past eight games (4-1-3-0) to reach the 70-point mark.
With three games in four days beginning last night, Peter Laviolette
had given his weary team a rare in-season rest: no practice Friday and
no morning skate yesterday.
The Isles (30-24-8-2) took a 1-0 lead when Shawn Bates (six-game point
streak) scored for the third straight game at 1:21 of the second period.
Garth Snow (33 saves), who has started 11 of 12 games in Chris
Osgood's injury absence, appeared destined for his second shutout in
11 days - he'd also blanked the Sharks on Feb. 19 in San Jose.
But Miroslav Satan's long slapper off a right-circle faceoff eluded
Snow's blocker through a maze of bodies with 4:53 remaining for the tie.
But Blake, who had failed to connect on at least three terrific
scoring chances in the third period against Buffalo goalie Mika
Noronen, picked off a defensive-zone pass and rushed down the ice on a
2-on-1 with Dave Scatchard. He whistled home his game-winner with 2:18
left in overtime.
No Ken do: Team listed Kenny Jonsson (mild knee sprain) as day-to-day,
but some reports said he could miss up to three weeks. ... Journeyman
D Alan Letang made Isles debut after being one of three players
recalled from Bridgeport, with Sven Butenschon and enforcer Eric
Godard. ... Blake also buried an overtime winner vs. Buffalo on New
Buffalo News Coverage: