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Isles' Casey Cizikas winning the battles in the trenches

New York Islanders' Matt Martin celebrates his first-period

New York Islanders' Matt Martin celebrates his first-period goal with Casey Cizikas during an NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Credit: AP / Gene J.Puskar

It's not pretty, Casey Cizikas said, and it's not supposed to be pretty. After all, what he and the rest of the Islanders' fourth line does is supposed to be yeoman's work -- kill a penalty, get pucks in deep, finish checks and maybe crash the net. Save the glory for the other guys.

But despite all that, it's hard to dispute that what happened in the waning minutes of the second period Saturday night was a fairly pretty sight for the Isles -- that is, coach Jack Capuano pitting Cizikas against Patrik Elias on a faceoff in the right offensive zone and everything that happened after: the puck sailing to Calvin de Haan, who blasted it through the traffic to hit Cal Clutterbuck, who scored on the deflection.

"He was beating me all night on that side," Cizikas said of Elias after the Islanders' 3-1 victory over the Devils at Nassau Coliseum. "He was tying up on me every single time. This time I just tried to go over and avoid his stick and I was able to beat him clean . . . It's definitely nice that Cappie is trusting us a little bit more in that position. We just gotta keep making the most of it and take advantage when we're out there. We're just keeping it simple."

And then there were those tense final moments -- a five-on-three that lasted 55 seconds with Cizikas and company clinging to a one-goal lead. That, at least, was more of what they're used to. The Devils were able to rattle off only one shot during that span.

"It was a great job," Cizikas said. "Guys were getting in shooting lanes, Jaro made the big save and we got it done. That was the big thing. Kudos to our killers. That was a big kill for us. It's always nice to chip in, but that's not our line's goal. It's nice when we score, but that's not our objective.

"We just gotta stick with it, keep playing hard and not try to get fancy."

Especially, he said, because the team is in such a positive place right now. Despite a 5-2 loss to the Capitals on Friday night, confidence, he said, is high.

The Devils' onslaught Saturday night -- in which the Devils outshot the Islanders 16-2 in the third period -- would have been a recipe for defeat last season. "We kind of stopped, we regained our momentum and we took it to them," Cizikas said.

And wouldn't you know it, Cizikas even got a goal out of the deal -- an empty-netter with five seconds left. That's his fifth point in five games.

"It's nice when we score, but that's not our objective," he clarified. "Me, Marty [Matt Martin], Cal [Clutterbuck], we all know what we have to do out there to be successful, and that's not playing a pretty game."

Well, most of the time, that is.

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