Final

Series (Game 1 of 1)

New York leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, January 8th
Oilers2Final
Islanders3

Oilers 2

(15-18-1, 38 pts)

Islanders 3

(20-17-1, 44 pts)

7:00 PM ET, January 8, 2004

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

1 2 3 T
EDM 1 0 12
NYI 0 1 23

J. Papineau (Islanders - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

R. Martinek (Islanders - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Aucoin (Islanders - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Goalie hadn't won since Dec. 6

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Rick DiPietro just wanted to win a hockey game, no matter what league he was playing in.

It took more than a month, but he finally earned a victory when the New York Islanders defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 Thursday night.

The 22-year-old goalie, who hadn't won since New York beat Chicago on Dec. 6, snapped a seven-game losing streak. He got stuck behind Garth Snow, who took over the Islanders' No. 1 goalie job, and feared getting rusty just sitting on the bench.

So DiPietro went on a conditioning stint to Bridgeport of the AHL. His luck was no better there: He lost both games he played.

"I couldn't get a win in the minors, so this was huge," said DiPietro, the first goalie ever chosen No. 1 in the NHL draft.

Justin Papineau scored a power-play goal early in the third period and another with 1:18 left to lift the Islanders.

Papineau fired a shot past a screened Ty Conklin just 1:24 after Cory Cross got the Oilers even with a shot from the blue line. He netted his second of the season 3:21 into the final period, just five seconds after New York began a five-on-three advantage.

"You gain confidence off a game like this," Papineau said. "I'm dealing with limited ice time, so I'm just trying to do the best I can and show what I can do when I get out there."

Radek Martinek tied it at 1 for the Islanders in the second, and Michael Peca had two assists. That was enough offense to make DiPietro a winner.

Before his previous victory, DiPietro lost five straight decisions. And since then, he has only played two NHL games. Snow had his first full game off after playing 15 straight, including eight consecutive starts.

DiPietro allowed only Mike York's first-period goal on Edmonton's third shot of the game at 8:59 of the first period.

"It's frustrating, especially to tie it late and then to lose it," York said.

New York snapped its winless streak at three (0-2-1). The slide came right after a six-game winning streak. The Islanders had a seven-game winning streak at home stopped with a loss Tuesday to Calgary.

Edmonton dropped to 2-1-0-1 on its six-game road trip that ties the Oilers' longest of the season. The Islanders have beaten the Oilers five straight times, dating to a loss on Dec. 19, 1999.

"We have two games left on this road trip and we have to learn from this game and move forward," York said. "We can't afford to slack off."

The regular-season series between the clubs who met in the 1983 and '84 Stanley Cup finals is tied 23-23-14.

York gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead when he snapped a shot from between the circles that got between DiPietro's pads. Raffi Torres, traded along with Brad Isbister from the Islanders to Edmonton at last year's trade deadline, assisted on York's 13th.

"After the first goal went in, I said to myself, `All right, here we go, it's over and done with. Now, just go out and have fun," DiPietro said.

Conklin made his first start in eight games in place of another former Islander, Tommy Salo, and made 26 saves. He made a spectacular stop on Adrian Aucoin in front, but seconds later allowed Martinek's long shot from the blue line to beat him and tie it.

Conklin made another great effort just before Papineau put the Islanders ahead.

Cross' high-sticking penalty gave New York a two-man advantage, and the Islanders quickly cashed in. After a faceoff win, Janne Niinimaa, sent to New York from Edmonton in last year's deal, had his shot blocked. Peca got the puck and was robbed by Conklin, who slid over to get it.

But he couldn't get back in time to cover the open right side, and Papineau calmly scored.

"For the most part, we had pretty good penalty killing," Conklin said. "We just got an unlucky break on the first one."

Game notes


The Oilers are 5-11-5 since losing to Montreal in the outdoor Heritage Classic on Nov. 22. ... Papineau entered with only four career goals and hadn't scored since Dec. 21. ... DiPietro finished with 21 saves.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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