Team Effort Cooks Ducks
Islanders 4, Mighty Ducks 1
By Kerry Gwydir
(Nov. 1) Goals by Jason Blake, Oleg Kvasha and Alexei Yashin chased
Anaheim starter Martin Gerber as the Islanders were on their way to a
4-1 win on Saturday afternoon. Trent Hunter added a goal in the
third. Rick DiPietro got the win between the pipes with several big
stops at key moments of the contest in an otherwise solid defensive
display by the Islanders.
The visitors had the best early chances in the first period, but the
Islanders came on quickly and dominated the rest of the opener. The
Ducks managed to post the first quality chance of the afternoon three
minutes in as Anaheim's checking line worked effectively deep in the
Islander end. Former Islander Jason Krog battled in front to set the
screen as Petr Sykora ripped off a low wrister that DiPietro kicked
away with his left pad.
Then it was DiPietro flashing the leather again on the next shift.
The goaltender robbed Alexei Smirnov on the doorstep with a diving
trapper rejection as the Mighty Duck forward one-timed a pass from
behind the net towards the far post. DiPietro read the developing
play, split to his right and snatched the disc before it crossed the
Blake got the Islanders on the board at the 4:20 mark thanks to a
Islander-hop off the end boards. The left wing banked the puck off of
Anaheim netminder Martin Gerber and over the goal line after Hunter's
long shot from the left boards went wide. Shawn Bates started the
play by winning an offensive zone faceoff to Adrian Aucoin.
Sergei Fedorov was sent to the box on the next shift, and the Isles
nearly converted with the extra man. Mark Parrish had the best chance
when an Anaheim clear pinged out front where the Islander was
situated. Yet, Parrish's wrister missed far post. Jason Wiemer, who
played on a line with Michael Peca and Parrish, was tagged with an
interference call with seconds remaining on the Mighty Ducks' penalty.
Though the Isles had just three shots going into the 15-minute mark,
they dominated the battles along the boards and controlled most of
the play. Yashin then hit the post off a 3-on-2 rush started by a
pass by Kvasha just inside the Anaheim blueline.
Kvasha followed that up by nearly potting one with four minutes to go
and the Isles on another powerplay with Rob Niedermayer in the box. A
diving play by Mariusz Czerkawski to block off an Anaheim clear went
right to the Yashin, who found Kvasha alone in front. Yet, the puck
was bouncing on the left wing, who missed the far post. Less than 20
seconds later, Kvasha had another pointblank chance - but, this time,
he buried the puck with 3:26 left in the opener.
A pretty display of puck possession highlighted this tally as Roman
Hamrlik quickly whisked a feed from the point to Yashin, who was
situated at the left faceoff dot. The assistant captain immediately
fed the unchecked Kvasha on the doorstep, who demonstrated plenty of
patience in using a backhander to slip a shot inside the left post.
With both teams playing four-aside, the Czerkawski-Yashin combination
struck again and chased Gerber from the game at the 4:50 mark of the
second. Yashin tallied this one off a two-on-one started in the
neutral zone off an Anaheim turnover. Czerkawski wound up taking
control of the play in full stride as he waltzed into the Anaheim end
with Niclas Havelid back. The right wing managed to flip a feed over
the Anaheim defender's stick to Yashin at the left faceoff dot.
Yashin immediately snapped off a one-timer that was nearly stopped by
Gerber, but still found a way to trickle over the goal line. J-S
Giguere came into the game at that point.
The Ducks got on the board with 12 ticks remaining in Kvasha's
penalty that had the teams skating four-aside just a minute earlier.
Andy McDonald, playing the left point, ripped a shot from the left
point that re-directed in front off Niedermayer and by DiPietro's
DiPietro made amends on the next shift to reject a 3-on-1 chance with
Eric Cairns caught up ice. With Anaheim's Steve Rucchin trailing,
Janne Niinimaa blocked the first shot, but the rebound pinged off the
diving Cairns and towards the net. DiPietro managed to flare out his
right pad to deny the sure goal. The Isles' PKers killed off the
subsequent delay of game infraction to Cairns, who had knocked the
net off its moorings.
Midway through the second, Anaheim kept pressuring the Islander end
of the ice and No. 39 continuing to stone-wall the Mighty Ducks.
DiPietro performed another stellar stop, this time robbing McDonald
of a one-timer from the hashmarks off a centering feed from Rucchin
in the slot. The goaltender dove across the crease and gobbled up the
opportunity in his chest protector.
It took just two minutes exactly for the Isles to get on the board in
the third, and it was Hunter notching his third goal of the young
season. Another pretty display of tic-tac-toe began with Niinimaa
controlling the puck at the right point and finding Bates cruising
down low along the goal line. The center looked up and fed Hunter,
who broke away from his check in front, and beat Giguere between five-
The rest of the way, the Isles bottled up the high-flying Mighty
Ducks to get the two points as Steve Stirling's club will face the
Ottawa Senators on Monday at the Coliseum.
EVERYTHING'S JUST DUCKY
By EVAN GROSSMAN
November 2, 2003 -- Islanders coach Steve Stirling issued an APB this
week for someone to step up and set an example for his team both on
and off the ice, someone to be the lightning rod for a squad that has
trouble believing in themselves and playing 60 minutes of unwavering
Yesterday afternoon, the Islanders had to take a number and get in
line. Because in a 4-1 win over the Stanley Cup runner-ups at the
Coliseum, the Isles kept their sails full with momentum and energy
and dominated the Ducks from start to finish. There were so many of
them that stepped up and kept the grip around their opponents'
throats in the locked position, from the continued magnificent play
by the top line, down to the grinding effort turned in by the third.
"They were better than us," Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said.
It started with the play of the newly formed line of Jason Blake,
Shawn Bates and Trent Hunter, a trio that scored a pair of goals that
began and ended the scoring in front of a season-low crowd of 10,782.
Blake slammed home his fourth goal of the year at 4:20 of the first
period on a rebound off Anaheim goalie Martin Gerber's pads.
"We were skating and working," Stirling said. "It was good to see."
Hunter scored the final goal of the afternoon when Bates found him
stalking the slot from behind the net, two minutes into the third.
"It's a great line," said Blake, not at all bitter about being
plucked from the second unit. "I love it."
The trio of Alexei Yashin, Oleg Kvasha and Mariusz Czerkawski again
created a truckload of chances. Kvasha took a beautiful cross-cage
feed from Czerkawski, generally the triggerman of the unit, late in
the first period for a 2-0 advantage. The Polish Prince then found
Yashin with a nice back-handed saucer pass for No. 79's fourth of the
year early in the second, which upped the trio's output to 15 of the
Isles' 31 goals scored this year.
"It just happened," Czerkawski said of the chemistry there that
produced their two goals. "Not really thinking too much."
The Yashin goal chased Gerber from the nets after he allowed three
goals on eight shots. It was Gerber's worst performance of the
season, as he came into the match with a sparkling 1.38 GAA. Last
year's playoff MVP, J-S Giguere, allowed only Hunter's goal the rest
of the way.
But of more importance, the Ducks had scored a goal on a Rob
Niedermayer deflection early in the second period to make it 3-1,
which is exactly when the Isles traditionally start to unravel. The
common theme the last two days was not letting teams back into games,
and that's when they leaned on the other new line of Michael Peca
between Mark Parrish and Jason Wiemer. The three of them, with a
solid performance by the blue line, blanketed Sergei Fedorov and his
line all afternoon and held the Ducks to four shots against Rick
DiPietro (17 saves) in the third.
ISLANDERS 4, MIGHTY DUCKS 1
Islanders Are Solid From Start to Finish
By RON DICKER
Published: November 2, 2003
UNIONDALE, N.Y., Nov. 1 â" The Islanders turned in one of their
maddeningly precise games Saturday against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks,
the kind that might compel observers to ask, Why can't these guys do
this more often?
They overwhelmed a hot goalie and they did not succumb to their
familiar habit of letting down after building a comfortable lead.
It turned into a 4-1 Islanders victory before a crowd of 10,782 at
Nassau Coliseum, a season low.
"It was great to play 60 minutes of hockey," said center Jason Blake,
who began the scoring. Oleg Kvasha, Aleksei Yashin and Trent Hunter
also scored, giving the Islanders (5-3-2-0) their first victory in
For the Islanders, it was the perfect platform from which to launch a
four-game homestand; it includes games against Ottawa and Dallas, the
teams with the best records in their conferences last season.
Anaheim (4-6-1-1) is no slouch either. The Mighty Ducks took the
champion Devils to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals last season.
Despite a slow start this season, they are expected to contend in the
For the fifth straight game, the Mighty Ducks sat goalie Jean-
SÃ©bastien GiguÃ¨re, and his $20 million contract, in favor of Martin
Gerber, who led the N.H.L. with a 1.38 goals against average before
the Islanders got to him Saturday.
Gerber was replaced by GiguÃ¨re after an opportunistic Islanders
attack produced a 3-0 lead early in the second period. A bit of luck
helped: 4 minutes 20 seconds into the game, Blake caromed the puck
off Gerber's behind for a 1-0 lead.
Then the Isles' first line â" Kvasha, Yashin and Mariusz Czerkawski â"
took over. Crisp passing ended with Czerkawski feeding Kvasha, who
whacked in a six-foot shot on the power play to make it 2-0 in the
first period. Czerkawski also assisted on Yashin's third-period goal.
"We created a lot of chances, but I think we have to continue to play
well so we can build confidence," Yashin said.
After blowing a two-goal lead to Pittsburgh and climbing back from a
two-goal deficit to tie, the Islanders avoided the big ups and downs
against the Ducks. Early in the second period, the Islanders' energy
seemed to lapse after Andy McDonald deflected a 40-foot slap shot off
his teammate Rob Niedermayer and past Rick DiPietro to trim the
Ducks' deficit to 3-1.
Yashin line Mighty good
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
For the previous two seasons, Alexei Yashin was the Islanders' No.1
center. But it has taken until Year 3 for No.79 to be the centerpiece
of a bona fide No.1 line.
One of the hottest scoring units in the NHL continued to pump in
goals yesterday as the Isles earned a dominant 4-1 victory over the
Anaheim Mighty Ducks before a small crowd of 10,782 at Nassau
Yashin and linemates Mariusz Czerkawski and Oleg Kvasha combined for
two goals and five points to give the trio 31 points this season;
their 15 goals also represent half of the Isles' output through 10
"You guys know I'll play with anybody, but so far it's going very
good," Yashin said. "We're creating a lot of chances and have to
continue to work hard and produce and play well ... so we can stay
Yashin's line, which didn't click like this when paired for stretches
in 2001-02, mostly has remained intact through the first month. First-
year coach Steve Stirling, who'd been unhappy with his team's
approach entering yesterday's opener of a four-game home stand,
instead mixed and matched his other combinations.
Jason Blake, playing on a revamped line with center Shawn Bates and
an active Trent Hunter on the right, got the Isles (5-3-2) started
with a bank-shot goal off Anaheim netminder Martin Gerber's backside
4:20 into the first.
Stirling also praised winger Jason Wiemer - moved into Blake's slot
on Michael Peca's left - for an excellent shadowing job on Sergei
Fedorov (one shot).
But Yashin's line notched the next two goals, beginning with Kvasha's
power-play backhander off a pretty feed from Czerkawski through the
slot at 16:34 of the first. Kvasha, who's been criticized in past
seasons for lapses in concentration and effort, has declined to
celebrate after his goals this season.
"Too easy," Czerkawski said.
"Too lazy," Kvasha deadpanned.
And it was too bad for Anaheim when Kvasha mistakenly was sent to the
penalty box after Yashin had committed an interference penalty inside
the Anaheim zone early in the second. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Yashin
swiped Czerkawski's odd-man feed through Gerber's pads for his fourth
"The confidence is rising, obviously," said Czerkawski, whose return
to the Island includes a team-high eight goals and 12 points
following a one-year stay in Montreal.
Kvasha was still in the box when Anaheim finally got a puck past Rick
DiPietro (17 saves) on Rob Niedermayer's power-play deflection at
But Hunter completed the scoring with his third goal in three
appearances, sweeping a feed from Shawn Bates past slumping Conn
Smythe winner Jean-Sebastian Giguere two minutes into the third.
Giguere had replaced Gerber, who entered with the league's lowest
goals-against (1.38), following Yashin's goal.
Rivalries right on schedule
The reaction to increased intradivisional play has been so positive
you wonder why the National Hockey League didn't think of it sooner.
It did. Increasing the number of games within a division or even
restricting play to within each of the two conferences has been
kicked around for more than a decade. Finally, one of the major
arguments against it just about vanished.
Critics once worried that cutting back games against less-familiar
teams would mean losing the chance to treat fans - and sell tickets -
to see stars like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Even a lousy,
boring, playoff-hopeless team could sell an extra few thousand
tickets, or maybe even generate a once-a-season sellout, when a
marquee talent came to town.
Mario is the last of the single-named sensations, but his box office
impact has diminished along with his age and the Pittsburgh Penguins'
payroll. The NHL has no LeBron James to tickle ticket sales. Milan
Hejduk was the NHL's leading goal-scorer last season, but he's not
going to generate many more ticket sales to the Nassau Coliseum
unless there is a horde of Hejduk cousins living in Hicksville.
To paraphrase comedian Jerry Seinfeld, now it's all about the
laundry. It's the uniforms that matter, and if they can clash six
times this season, as the Devils and Philadelphia Flyers will, there
is going to be buzz even in the middle of the week in the middle of
Even though his Flyers lost a 3-2 game to the Devils Thursday night,
coach Ken Hitchcock's enthusiasm was unbridled.
"It was a great game," Hitchcock said. "They should all be like this.
I wish we could play this team 12 times."
"I love it," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur chimed in. "For my money -
and not just because I own five season tickets - I'd like to see
these guys more often in my building."
There will be five more regular-season clashes between the Flyers and
Devils, one more than last season. The future of increased
intradivisional play is as uncertain as the future of the league
itself, and there are some minuses to go along with all the pluses.
The appeal of more rivalries like Rangers-Islanders or Maple Leafs-
Bruins is undeniable, but it is going to be harder to whip up much
bloodlust for those Predators-Blue Jackets showdowns in the Central
Hot and nasty rivalries need some time, and they usually need to be
baked in a playoff oven. Teams just a few years away from expansion
lack that sense of history, but improved familiarity will continue to
breed contempt. In hockey, that's a good thing.
If the league takes it another step, restricting regular-season play
to entirely within the conference, teams could cut travel costs and
produce fewer yawners for the home fans. Games would be meaner and
more intense, and in a convoluted throwback to an era where
personalities matter, people would know who Scott Stevens and Joe
Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier really are. It would no longer be
about the laundry.
Hall doors open for pioneers
Pat LaFontaine's timing on the ice couldn't have been better. His
timing off it couldn't have been worse.
LaFontaine had the misfortune to play on the first U.S. Olympic team
after the 1980 Miracle on Ice squad, which also meant he joined the
Islanders just as their dynasty began to erode like a Long Beach
shore during a hurricane.
He never played for a Cup team, and a concussion ended his career
prematurely, but he carved out scoring records and respect for U.S.-
Grant Fuhr, who had the physique of a croissant taste-tester and the
laid-back attitude of a Parrothead, was the underrated goaltender for
the Edmonton Oilers. Backstopping a team that won four Stanley Cups,
Fuhr rarely shared the spotlight with teammates like Gretzky, Mark
Messier, Jari Kurri, and Paul Coffey.
Tomorrow night, both will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Not only are both players deserving, but they are threads in the
fabric that has made hockey a more diverse game.
Both players often came across as shy, soft-spoken, reluctant stars,
but both were fiercely driven and were pioneers in their own way.
LaFontaine was at the forefront of the American surge into the NHL
marketplace. Fuhr was among the first black hockey players to make an
impact in the NHL, more than 25 years after Willie O'Ree broke the
Fights breaking out
Fighting is up in the first few weeks of the season, which may be a
reflection of the increased intradivisional play, or else equipment
managers have switched to a much harsher detergent to wash the
players' underwear. ... NHL stats reveal that the Rangers are the
league's biggest team with an average weight of 211 pounds, wallets
Meeting the Challenge
Stirling stirs pot and Isles respond with win over Ducks
By Alan Hahn
November 2, 2003
Adrian Aucoin said a recent shutout loss should have proved to the
Islanders that "if we're not skating, we're not very good." With that
in mind, what yesterday's 4-1 win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim at
Nassau Coliseum should prove to them is that when they do skate, they
"We were really skating and working," coach Steve Stirling said. "It
was good to see." More important, it was seen virtually the entire
game, with very little let-up.
The Stanley Cup finalist Mighty Ducks did raise their game after the
Islanders took a 3-0 lead early in the second period. They scored a
power-play goal 1:16 later to cut the Islanders' lead to two.
There wasn't much needed to be said on the Islanders' bench at that
point. Fresh in their minds was their second-period meltdown in
Pittsburgh only three days earlier, when they blew a 2-0 lead and
fell behind 4-2 to an inferior team before coming back to get a tie.
"We wanted to make sure we got the next opportunity and they didn't
get the chance to make it a one-goal game," Jason Wiemer said.
They did exactly that. It was a collective stepping-up by a team that
was challenged to do so by their coach after the Pittsburgh collapse.
He wanted leaders and catalysts. He got both.
"That, for me, is what leadership is all about," Stirling
said. "Someone just taking charge on any given shift, any given
period, any given night. And tonight, we got a lot of contributions
from a lot of players."
Aucoin, designated with the alternate captain's "A,'' was one. He had
two assists, was a plus-2 and was rock-solid in his own end and
especially along the blue line.
Wiemer, not designated but very much considered a leader on the team,
was another. Stirling moved him to the left wing of Michael Peca's
line with Mark Parrish. The trio didn't produce any goals, but they
also didn't allow any.
Stirling matched the Peca line against Anaheim's top line, which has
Sergei Fedorov centering Rob Niedermayer and Stanislav Chistov. The
line had only two shots on goal.
Another new trio Stirling put together was Shawn Bates centering
Jason Blake and rookie Trent Hunter. This group produced immediately
to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Blake whacked at the puck near the
left post and it bounced off the rear of goalie Martin Gerber and
into the net at 4:20 of the first.
The red-hot Alexei Yashin line, with Oleg Kvasha and Mariusz
Czerkawski, kept their torrid scoring pace by producing the second
goal of the game, by Kvasha on the power play at 16:34 to make it 2-
0. It was an impressive goal, featuring touch passes from Yashin to
Roman Hamrlik to Czerkawski at the left post; Czerkawski could have
shot but instead made one last touch to Kvasha for an easy finish.
"We're not thinking much," Czerkawski said of his line, "and that's
the best situation."
Czerkawski earned his second assist when he hooked up with Yashin on
a two-on-one to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead at 4:50 of the second.
At that point Mighty Ducks coach Mike Babcock pulled Gerber (five
saves) and replaced him with last season's playoff hero, Jean-
Sebastien Giguere. It fired up Anaheim some, and on the ensuing power
play that remained (with Kvasha in the box), Niedermayer tipped in a
shot at 6:06 to make it 3-1.
Eric Cairns took a penalty just over a minute later, and an Islanders
letdown could have been expected. Instead, the penalty was killed and
the period ended with the score unchanged. Hunter then scored his
third goal of the season off an excellent pass from Bates two minutes
into the third to put away the game.
Yashin: Other Lines Need to Start Clicking, Too
November 2, 2003
Alexei Yashin remained even keel about the continued success of his
line, with wingers Oleg Kvasha and Mariusz Czerkawski, which produced
two more goals in yesterday's 4-1 win over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks
at Nassau Coliseum.
Yashin pointed out that there will be a time when his line isn't
producing and other lines must step up. Yashin also thinks his line
is capable of more. "It's great when you're going well and the puck
goes in the net," said Yashin, who had one goal and perhaps missed a
hat trick by inches - one shot went off the post, another skipped
across the goal line. "But we can't just live for today. We have to
build for tomorrow. We can't get excited that we're playing well and
then we don't have to work."
Yashin's low-key approach apparently has rubbed off on Kvasha, who
has not raised his stick after any of his three goals. Nor does he
plan to. "I'm done with that," Kvasha said.
Czerkawski teased Kvasha that he saw little need to celebrate because
the goals came "too easy." Kvasha offered a deadpan reply. "No," he
said. "Too lazy."
Yesterday's unseasonably warm weather undoubtedly had an effect on
the smallest home crowd of the season thus far. Only 10,782 showed up
for the matinee game . . . Dave Scatchard remains sidelined with a
shoulder dislocation but has been keeping tabs on his younger
brother, Doug, who has started his professional career in the ECHL.
The 22-year-old winger, who in September was in Islanders rookie camp
on a tryout, has a goal and three points in his first three games
with the Roanoke Express.
"We weathered the storm," Stirling said. "We worked hard in our own
end and kept the puck out of our net. We played it well."
INSIDE GAME 10
RECORD: 5-3-2 LAST SEASON: 3-6-1
PLUS: A timely break for the Islanders came when referee Blaine Angus
sent Oleg Kvasha to the box for an obstruction penalty that appeared
to be committed by Alexei Yashin at 4:18 of the second. Thirty-two
seconds later, Yashin finished a two-on-one break to give the Isles a
3-0 lead. "Was it my penalty?" he asked with a smile. "I don't know."
PLUS: Impressive game from Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek, who
was a healthy scratch in the previous three games.
MIGHTY DUCKS 1
Radio: ESPN (1050)