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Sluggish third period is Islanders' undoing

Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders

Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders is checked into the boards by Johnny Oduya #29 of the New Jersey Devils in the third period. (January 23, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

The last time the Islanders and Devils played - a shutout win for the Islanders Monday - the Devils failed to show up.

But last night the Islanders were absent in the third period, mustering only three shots on goal, and it resulted in a 4-2 loss to New Jersey.

Tied 2-2 heading into the third period, the Islanders eased off the tenacity that had allowed them to dominate the second period and paid the price of two points.

"That was the game right there," Kyle Okposo said of the team's dismal third-period effort. "We had a bad period and we have to correct some things."

The Islanders controlled play in the second period, outshooting the Devils 14-1 and scoring two power-play goals, but the Devils capitalized on a subdued Islanders squad in the third, scoring a pair of goals for the win.

"We stopped pushing the pace," coach Scott Gordon said. "We didn't give up anything but we didn't push the pace to allow ourselves to have the opportunity to win the game.''

Defenseman Bryce Salvador's wrister at 13:11 of the third period beat a screened Rick DiPietro for the go-ahead goal and Zach Parise added an empty-netter with 46 seconds to play.

In his fourth start of the season, DiPietro made 24 saves.

Putting his trademark hustle on display, Okposo made two outstanding plays in one shift at the beginning of the first period. He created an odd-man rush that resulted in Mark Streit hitting the post, then made a terrific diving block to rob Jamie Langenbrunner of a goal.

Okposo wasn't there to stop Langenbrunner minutes later, though. The Devils' captain sizzled one past DiPietro at 5:52 to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, the Islanders came on after Colin White drilled Sean Bergenheim into the boards for a hit that ultimately cost the Devils two goals.

After Bergenheim left the ice with a bloody nose, White received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct at 9:15.

Okposo scored the Islanders' first power-play goal in three games as he recovered a whiffed pass from John Tavares in the right circle and slipped it past Martin Brodeur at 9:34.

"People say just keep it simple and get pucks on net," captain Doug Weight said of the team's power-play woes before the game, "and maybe this is an ignorant answer, but you've just got to be able to finish.''

Jack Hillen was awarded the Islanders' second power-play goal of the game a little more than two minutes later, but it was defenseman Bryce Salvador who knocked it into the Devils' net for a 2-1 Islanders lead at 11:36.

Although the Islanders held the Devils without a shot for the first 19:28 of the second, the Devils scored on their first shot of the period. Attempting to cut off a pass, defenseman Freddy Meyer inadvertently chipped in Parise's pass for the tying goal with 32 seconds to play.

Salvadore redeemed his second-period gaffe with his wrist shot through traffic that sneaked under DiPietro's left arm for the go-ahead goal at 13:11, and Parise's empty-netter nailed down the victory at 19:14.

"That's a game you hope you don't look back on at the end of the season and say those were two points we should've had that cost us the playoffs,'' DiPietro said, "but we'll learn from our mistakes and get right back at it."

New York Sports