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.
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 return.
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