Rapid Reaction: Devils 1, Islanders 0
November, 25, 2011
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com
What it means: Devils backup goaltender Johan Hedberg delivered a phenomenal 23-save performance to record his 19th career shutout and second of the season in the Devils' 1-0 win over the floundering Islanders. The Islanders have dropped 14 of their last 16 games, including their last four straight.
Don't mess with the Johan: Hedberg was terrific in his 11th start of the season. The 38-year-old netminder made two clutch saves against Michael Grabner in the third -- one on an early breakaway and later in the period to stop his backhanded penalty shot attempt -- to boost the Devils past the Islanders for their second straight.
Sykora scores: Petr Sykora snapped a scoreless draw at 14:13 of the second period on the Devils’ first power-play opportunity of the game. Sykora tallied from the high slot for his fifth of the season after rookie Adam Larsson broke his stick on a his attempt from the point.
Rookie mistake: Larsson was benched during the third period after turning the puck over in the neutral zone to Michael Grabner 20 seconds into play. Hedberg covered Larsson on the blunder with a poke-check save against Grabner on a breakaway.
Montoya returns: Goaltender Al Montoya made his first start since November 10 – a 4-3 overtime loss for the Islanders. The 26-year-old netminder, who won the opening-night nod out of training camp, missed six games with a hamstring injury. After being activated off injured reserve Wednesday, Montoya gave up only one goal on 23 shots faced but was saddled with his third loss of the season.
Powerful penalty kill: The Devils killed off three straight penalties in the first period and another crucial man-up opportunity for the Isles in the third. The league-leading unit has not yielded a power-play goal in four games.
Number three for Nino: Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter was scratched for the third straight game Friday against the Devils. The 19-year-old Swiss winger made his season debut November 15 against the Rangers after missing the first 14 games of the season with a groin injury, but has been absent from the lineup of late. Niederreiter has played three games since this season, which means the Islanders have six more until they have to make a decision on the former fifth overall pick (2010). If Niederreiter plays ten games this season, it will count toward the first year of a three-year entry-level deal inked last September; the Islanders can also send him back to his junior team -- the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
Comeau claimed: After being waived by the Islanders on Thanksgiving, Blake Comeau was claimed by the Calgary Flames Friday afternoon. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a career-high 24-goal, 46-point season but has struggled through the first 16 games. The former second-round pick has yet to record a point and has been scratched three games this season. Comeau will re-join former coach Brent Sutter in Calgary; Sutter coached the young winger during the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships when Canada won its second straight gold medal.
Up Next: Devils vs. Islanders, Saturday at 1 p.m.