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Islanders fall to the Wild

March 25, 2009 6:54:22 PM PDT
Marian Gaborik had two goals and two assists, Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan each scored once and set up two others, and the Minnesota Wild beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Wednesday night to snap a five-game road losing streak. After the Wild fell behind 1-0, Gaborik and Antti Miettinen connected in the first period to give Minnesota the lead. Nolan's power-play goal in the second made it 3-1, and defenseman Martin Skoula pushed the advantage to three goals in the third for the Wild, who earned a road victory for the first time since they beat Anaheim on March 8.

Minnesota jumped over St. Louis and tied ninth-place Nashville with 78 points in the Western Conference playoff race. The Wild were 2-7-2 in their previous 11 road games - averaging only two goals per contest.

Brunette and Gaborik added third-period goals as the Wild matched a season-high with six. Niklas Backstrom made 32 saves for his 33rd victory.

The Islanders (24-41-8), closing in on clinching the NHL's worst record, got goals from defenseman Bruno Gervais and Andy Hilbert in their first home game following a 2-3-1 road trip. New York had been 9-2-2 at home before then. Yann Danis stopped 22 shots.

Gaborik tied it at 1 at 11:46 of the first with his second goal in two nights. In his third game after missing 38 following hip surgery, Gaborik continued to provide much-needed offense for the defensive-minded Wild. Minnesota was again without captain and leading scorer Mikko Koivu, sidelined by a knee injury, but got another pick-me-up from Gaborik, who redirected Marek Zidlicky's pass in front for his fifth goal.

Minnesota needed only 10 seconds of its second power play to grab the lead. New York's Joel Rechlicz, who earlier fought John Scott, was off for roughing when Miettinen made it 2-1 with 1 minute left in the first.

The period ended roughly near the tunnel to the Wild's dressing room. Miettinen hit Blake Comeau as a security guard prematurely opened the door, and Islanders forward Kyle Okposo jumped in. The fracas created only a pair of roughing penalties, but Okposo - a Minnesota native - yelled at the Wild bench as he was led off the ice.

Gervais, who had gone 160 games and nearly three years without a goal before he scored on March 2, found the net for the third time in 11 games to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 7:37.

The rest of the game belonged to the Wild. One night after Minnesota recorded three shots in the first frame and 19 overall in a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers, the playoff hopefuls fired 11 pucks at Danis in the opening 20 minutes.

Hilbert brought the Islanders to 4-2 at 6:24 of the third period, but Brunette restored Minnesota's three-goal lead with 3:49 left. Gaborik scored on the power play with 1:17 remaining to make it 6-2.

Notes: The teams met for only the ninth time, with Minnesota holding a 6-3 edge. ... It was the Wild's first visit to Long Island since Dec. 13, 2005, when Gaborik scored twice in a 4-3 win. ... Islanders C Nate Thompson earned his first NHL assist on Hilbert's goal.


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