DiPietro nets seventh straight start as Isles shut down Devils

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Don't tell Rick DiPietro and the
New York Islanders the Stanley Cup playoffs are out of reach.

Rick DiPietro made 16 saves and the resurgent Islanders extended
their winning streak to four games with a 6-1 victory over the New
Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

DiPietro, honored Monday as the NHL defensive player of the
week, won his seventh straight start and has allowed one goal or
less in the last four games. He lost his shutout bid on a fluke
goal by Paul Martin, a flip shot at 10:59 of the third that caromed
off the side glass and landed in the net.

The Islanders refused to surrender in the playoff chase, despite
dealing away four veteran players Thursday at the trade deadline.
The win gave the Islanders 66 points, moving them five behind the
Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern
Conference. Montreal did not play Tuesday.

"I thought we had a good shot all along," DiPietro said. "As
far back as we were, we realized we weren't playing our best
hockey. Guys have been waiting patiently to turn things around.
It's starting to happen now and it's an exciting time for us."

It's a run that would not have happened without DiPietro.

"We haven't always as a team performed to our capabilities,"
Islanders forward Jason Blake said. "Sometimes we leave our
goaltenders out to dry. Ricky has been carrying this team since the
trading deadline."

Alexei Yashin scored two goals, both set up by Sean Bergenheim,
and Bergenheim also had a goal. Jeff Tambellini, one of the players
acquired at the trade deadline, and Shawn Bates and John Erskine
also scored for the Islanders.

The Islanders dominated the season series, finishing 6-1-1
against the Devils.

New Jersey dropped its second straight as Martin Brodeur had
another tough game in goal. Just as in the Devils' 6-3 loss to
Pittsburgh on Saturday, Brodeur was pulled after allowing six
goals. He was replaced by Scott Clemmensen.

"I played 25 minutes and 35 minutes in two games," Brodeur
said. "I shouldn't be tired. I'm tired of getting scored on,
that's it."

It marked the first time Brodeur was pulled in consecutive games
since Dec. 31, 1996, and Jan 2, 1997.

Lou Lamoriello, the Devils' CEO, president, general manager and
coach, expressed confidence in his struggling netminder.

"Marty will come right back," he said. "We just haven't been
playing the way we had been playing as a team."

Rookies Tambellini and Bergenheim staked the Islanders to a 2-0
first-period lead.

Tambellini, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, got his first
NHL goal at 9:16. Brodeur stopped Bates' shot and Tambellini
pounced on the rebound. The rookie wheeled around Brodeur to
deposit the puck into the net.

Bergenheim got his second NHL goal, and first this season, when
he scored on his own rebound. Brodeur blocked the initial drive and
Bergenheim followed up with a sharp-angle shot that glanced off the
goalie's glove.

Yashin scored both of his goals in the second period -- at 11:09
and 18:18 -- to extend the Islanders lead to 4-0.

Bates scored 36 seconds into the third, and Erskine followed at
5:01 to put New York up 6-0 and end Brodeur's night.

Game notes
Jason Wiemer has yet to play for the Devils. The winger,
acquired at the trade deadline from the Calgary Flames, has been
held up by immigration paperwork. ... Devils D Richard Matvichuk
missed a sixth straight game because of a back injury. ... The
Islanders are 20-8-1 when they score the first goal. ... Islanders
D Alexei Zhitnik injured an ankle in the second period. He did not