Islanders 1, Devils 0
Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 6:34 PM
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Kyle Okposo scored the game's only goal and Anders Nilsson stopped 24 shots for his first NHL victory and the New York Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Sunday.
With the victory, the Islanders (28-29-9) moved within five points of Winnipeg for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. New Jersey (36-24-5) remains at 77 points.
The teams played a scoreless first period before Okposo scored his 15th goal of the season at 2:39 of the second, beating Martin Brodeur
to the glove side with a low wrist shot from the slot.
The goal was assisted by rookie center Casey Cizikas, his third assist in six games since his recall from AHL Bridgeport.
Nilsson is the first goalie in Islanders history to have a shutout in his first win. The 21-year-old Nilsson was called up from Bridgeport on Feb. 29. He was selected as the AHL goalie of the month for February with a 6-0-1 mark.
Nilsson was making his second career start against the 39-year-old Brodeur, who was playing his 1,177th game.
Nilsson made a key save with 1:54 remaining on a wrist shot by Devils right wing Petr Sykora
, who was playing his 1,000th game.
The 6-foot-5 Swedish goaltender, a third-round draft pick by the Islanders in 2009, made his first NHL start on Nov. 21, losing 5-0 at Pittsburgh. He also played the last two periods in relief of Rick DiPietro in a 6-0 home loss against Boston on Nov. 19.
The Islanders and Devils were both playing for the third time in less than 72 hours and each coming off wins. New Jersey beat the Capitals 5-0 in Washington on Friday while the Islanders ended a four-game trip with a 3-2 win in Boston on Saturday.
New York lost 6-3 at Philadelphia on March 1 and 3-2 in overtime at Washington on Feb. 28.
The teams hadn't met since splitting two games on Thanksgiving weekend. The Devils won 1-0 at the Nassau Coliseum and the Islanders won 3-2 in Newark.
Sunday's game was the first of three meetings between the teams in a seven-day stretch; the Islanders play three straight against New Jersey, while the Devils host the New York Rangers on Tuesday before playing the Islanders again on Thursday and Saturday.
The Islanders failed to capitalize on a two-man advantage for 1:08 midway through the second period. They have yet to score a goal with a 5-on-3 advantage this season.
NOTES: The Devils were without injured left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky
(right knee) and defenseman Andy Greene
(back spasms). ... The Islanders scratched forward Michael Grabner because of the flu. ... The Devils are tied with Los Angeles and Montreal for the most goals scored (six) while playing 5-on-3.