Danis, a former Islander, robbed Blake Comeau on a breakaway in the third period on Saturday.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – After emotional wins this week over the Rangers and Penguins, the Devils came up short against the last-place Islanders on Saturday.
In his first start since Feb. 2, Yann Danis allowed two goals in the second period, including a Jon Sim tally that broke a 1-1 tie. The Devils fell, 4-2, at Nassau Coliseum.
Mike Mottau and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for New Jersey (40-24-3), which saw its winning streak snapped at two games. Kovalchuk’s 36th of the season – a blast from the right circle – got the Devils to within a goal, 3-2, at 1:41 of the third period.
But Sean Bergenheim’s shorthanded tally during a four-minute Devils power play sealed it midway through the third. Danis got a piece of the shot with his glove, but couldn’t control the rebound as it bounced up off his left shoulder and into the net.
“Every time I’m out there, I’ve got something to prove,” Danis said. “I want to show that they can have confidence in me to put me out there and that I can get the job done. Obviously, I want to get the win so tonight I was a little disappointed, but over all, I was happy with my game.”
Danis, admitted it’s a challenge to be sharp after significant time off. Saturday’s game was his 10th appearance of the season, and first since relieving Martin Brodeur at Carolina on Feb. 13. He has made five starts in 67 games.
“It hasn’t been easy,” he said. “Obviously, you want to play and I’d like to play more often. It helps to stay focused and stay confident but it is what it is. I have to work hard in practice every day, and make sure when I’m play that I’m ready.”
Danis made his share of terrific saves. He was tested late in the first, turning away a John Tavares redirection with a minute left, then shrugging off a Josh Bailey slapshot at the buzzer. He robbed Blake Comeau on a breakaway seconds after Comeau had exited the penalty box in the third.
The Devils got the start they wanted, recording 10 of the game’s first 11 shots. But their power play wound up 0-for-4, coming up empty on a four-minute man advantage following Dylan Reese's double-minor for high-sticking Zach Parise. They also wasted 50 seconds of a 5-on-3 with less than eight minutes to go.
Jacques Lemaire didn’t feel his group looked past the Islanders, who were winless in their previous four outings.
“I don’t think we took it easier,” Lemaire said. “We started the game well – we scored. After that, the power play didn’t go well. They got a goal, they got some energy, they played great in the second period. I felt in the third, we came back and played good.”
Parise said no opponent can be taken lightly down the homestretch. With 15 games left in the regular season, the Devils trail Pittsburgh by two points for the Atlantic Division's top spot.
“Doesn’t matter who we’re playing this time of year,” Parise said. “We should have a better effort. We played well, I think, in different spurts. In the third period, we played well. We started the game pretty well, then we did not so great at other times.”
Lemaire hopes to solve the problems on the power play soon. New Jersey squandered a five-minute man advantage against Pittsburgh on Friday, though it didn’t cost them in a 3-1 victory.
“The last three, four games the power play has been struggling,” Lemaire said. “We don’t seem to find the right play. When we have people in front of the net, we don’t shoot. When guys are in the corner, we shoot. So we have to get together on it.”
The Devils have also had troubles on the road, having won two of their last 14 away from home since beating the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 12. They host Boston on Monday and Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
“It’s not where you want it to be,” captain Jamie Langenbrunner said of the Devils' road play. “We’re going to have to get better at it. It looked like it was a product of our game of late more than anything. When we played well in San Jose (a 4-3 win), it wasn’t a problem.”
Mottau gave the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first period with his first goal in 42 games. He notched his second of the year with a wrister from the right point that beat Dwayne Roloson at 2:52. Both of Mottau’s goals this season have come against the Islanders.
Three of the Islanders' four markers came on unlucky bounces for the Devils, beginning with Freddy Meyer’s marker that tied the contest at 17:23. Travis Zajac misconnected on a drop pass for Dainius Zubrus inside the Islander blue line, and Meyer turned a 3-on-2 rush the other way. Danis stopped Tim Jackman’s initial shot, but Meyer got to the rebound for his third of the season.
Sim’s 10th made it 2-1 at 11:59 of the second. Richard Park lost control trying to enter the Devils’ zone one against four, but Sim trailed the play and snapped a shot off traffic in front, inside the right post.
“I saw it all the way, but it hit a stick or a skate and it just changed direction,” said Danis.
The Devils got into penalty trouble in the second, when they handed the Islanders three power plays in a span of 9:37. With Kovalchuk in the box for high-sticking, Mark Streit’s 10th – a slapshot from the top of the left circle – gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead at 12:49.
Dean McAmmond set up Kovalchuk’s bomb from the right circle to make it a one-goal game in the third. But Bergenheim put the contest out of reach with his second shorthanded goal of the season.
Parise said he was fine after the Reese high-stick, suffering only a bloody nose. … The Devils have scored first in three straight contests. … New Jersey has allowed five shorthanded goals this year, three on the road. … The Devils fell to 3-2 in the season series with the Islanders, which concludes at Prudential Center on April 10.
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