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Isles postgame: Out of the cellar

This was hardly a convincing 5-1 win, if you can say such a thing -- the Devils held a 35-14 shot advantage, 29-6 over the final two periods. Especially in the second, when the game was still in doubt, the ice was tilted into the Islanders zone.

But the Devils are going through what the Isles did: A complete inability to score. Couple that with some horrendous own-zone play in the first, when the Isles capitalized to take a 3-0 lead, and not even the move to Jacques Lemaire seems like it will help the Devils.

"It looked like they lost their ability to play the game, which is very strange," Lemaire said. "I've never seen this in the past, never... It's not 'squeezing the stick,' it's worse than that."

The Islanders know all about that. Now, with their vastly improved play -- they held the Devils without a shot for the first 11 minutes tonight -- the Islanders can see ways to win games.

"We have to take that approach. We know what it was like before and we can't go back there," said P.A. Parenteau.

-- Josh Bailey with two goals and a key assist on Frans Nielsen's shorthanded goal in the second, his first points in two months. Bailey looks and sounds like a different player. "Garth must know what he's doing, because he's been great since he came back," Dwayne Roloson said.

That shorthanded goal is the type the Isles wouldn't have scored during the 1-17-3 skid: Bailey got knocked off the puck and into the Devils net by Ilya Kovalchuk, with no penalty coming; the puck sat there and Nielsen pounced, putting it past Marty Brodeur, who was sitting on his rear thanks to his teammate.

No early whistle, no puck headed back the other way -- an opportunity seized and a 3-1 game that was still in doubt went to 4-1. "You could feel the wind come out of their sails," James Wisniewski said.

-- Matt Moulson was cleared to return in the first by the doctors, but he must have felt dizzy or had another concussion symptom crop up. I think the league will take a look at Anton Volchenkov's hit, but I don't think there'llbe a suspension, even though it was a clear hit to the head of a player in a vulnerable spot.

-- Two days off for everyone, yours truly included. Happy holidays to all and Katie Strang will be back with Isles Files for Sunday's visit from the Canadiens.

New York Sports