Islanders win despite depleted defense

New York Islanders' Jeff Tambellini, left, tries to New York Islanders' Jeff Tambellini, left, tries to control the puck in front of Columbus Blue Jackets' Kris Russell in the first period. (March 27, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Considering the recent injuries suffered by the Islanders' defense, "depleted" seems an understatement.

The Islanders beat the Blue Jackets, 4-3, on Josh Bailey's goal at 2:58 of overtime Saturday night, but for the second straight game, they were forced to recall a defenseman from Bridgeport on an emergency basis.

On Thursday, Mark Flood made his NHL debut in place of Dustin Kohn (concussion) and last night, 20-year-old Russian defenseman Anton Klementyev filled in against the Columbus Blue Jackets for the injured Bruno Gervais, who is day-to-day with a groin strain.

Heading into the game, the Islanders' defensive corps had a combined total of only 726 games of NHL experience - and only 12 games combined among Flood, Klementyev and Dylan Reese.

Mark Streit, the most experienced of the Islanders' defensemen, made a key strip of the puck to trigger Bailey's winning goal.

Only two defensemen who played against Columbus appeared in the team's home opener Oct. 3 - Streit and Freddy Meyer (Jack Hillen was a scratch for that game).

Since then, Radek Martinek was lost to a season-ending knee injury, Brendan Witt was placed on waivers and assigned to Bridgeport, Andy Sutton was traded, Andrew MacDonald was sidelined for four weeks with a broken foot, and Kohn and Gervais were hurt recently.

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Although Witt was a consideration, the Islanders decided to give young players an opportunity, especially with MacDonald nearing a return.

"Obviously, we have some defensemen who are hurt and out of the lineup,'' general manager Garth Snow said, "but this is a great opportunity for some of our young players to get experience in this push down the stretch."

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