Daily News from New York, New York on October 5, 1997 · 70
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Daily News from New York, New York · 70

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New York, New York
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Sunday, October 5, 1997
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70
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T3 O CO T3 C V) 3HMD MOM SWISH. By RALPH VACCHIANO Daily News Sports Writer Playing well against the Rangers and tying them at the Garden on opening night is one thing. For the Islanders of the recent past, playing well the next game has been another matter entirely. So consider last night a big step in their evolution from pretenders to contenders. The Islanders rebounded exactly the way good teams are supposed to. They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-0, in their home opener at Nassau Coliseum, coming one night after opening their season at the Garden against the Rangers with a gritty 2-2 tie. "We know the things that happened to us last year," defenseman Bryan Berard said. "But the confidence level on this team is much higher already than it was ISLANDERS 3 MAPLE LEAFS 0 all of last year." That's because the Islanders are off to a flying start, thanks to goalie Tommy Sa-lo's 28-save shutout last night, which was backed by a goal by Sergei Nemchinov and two by Claude Lapointe. After a win-less, six-game preseason, the Isles took three of their first four possible points. Last night, though, figured to be the tough one. Against a terrible team, one night after a terrific opening tie, would have been a dangerous game for the Isles of a year ago especially when that first game was against the Rangers. Last year they went 2-2-1 against the Rangers. But in games after they played the Rangers they were a dismal 0-4-1. "We talked about that," defenseman Bryan McCabe said. "It was always happening to us, but we stopped it tonight" They did that, according to coach Rick Bowness, by responding to a passionless ending to a fast-starting first period. After the smoke cleared from the pre-game, opening-night ceremonies literally, since the start was delayed several minutes thanks to the remnants of the indoor fireworks the Islanders opened the game with a bit of a flurry. Backed by a raucous and rare sellout crowd, they were all over the Leafs early, taking the first six shots of the game. ; ' t PUCK PLUCK: Islanders forward Mike Hough (I.) and Leafs' Mats Sundin battle for control. The only problem was, none of them went in. And the lull lasted until the start of the second period, when the Islanders turned the pressure up again. This time, though, they had better results. Just 1:16 in, Berard took a wrist shot that deflected off former Islander and Ranger goalie Glenn Healy's stick. But the puck bounced right to Nemchinov, who swatted it over Healy's shoulder and into the net for a 1-0 Islander lead. "The passion came back," Bowness said. And the passion certainly was there in the second period. That's when the Islanders killed off a four-minute Toronto power play, and Nemchinov and Lapointe staked the Isles to their overwhelming lead. Lapointe adding another 10:15 into the third, which let the Isles finally back into their defensive zone to help get Salo the sixth shutout of his career. "That wasn't as pretty as we would've like to have seen it," Bowness said. "But it was effective because we got the passion back in the game." By SHERRY ROSS Daily News Sports Writer LANDOVER, Md. The Washington Capitals, who once scratched and clawed for goals, have scored 14 times in their first three games. The Devils, whose game is based on stingy defense, have allowed seven goals in their first two. As Jerry Seinfeld might say, this is Bi-zarro World. The Caps handed the disorganized Devils a 4-1 loss last night at the old Cap Center, hardly a memorable last game for them in the gloomy building. The Caps will move into smart new digs downtown in December, but the move didn't come fast enough for the Devils. Even allowing for the schedule of two road games in two nights, and back-to-back starts by Martin Brodeur, the Devils' effort was unimpressive. The defense pairing of Lyle Odelein and Scott Nieder-mayer had a particularly scary start, as they were on ice for the first three Caps' goals. "I felt pretty good, except I couldn't get CAPITALS 4 DEVILS 1 a handle on the puck," said Niedermayer, who lost a checking assignment that turned into Steve Konowalchuk's opening goal and couldn't handle a bouncing puck that Dale Hunter did, banking it off Odelein for a 2-0 lead in the first period. "We might have been caught a bit by surprise," Niedermayer added. "They skated really well, moved the puck crisply and made a lot of nice passes. I don't think we were ready for that" The Devils allowed two goals in 16 seconds by Jason Wiemer in Friday night's 4-3 win over Tampa Bay, and two in 36 seconds by Mark Tinordi and Richard Zednik last night "It's not a problem of the personnel here not being good enough," said Brodeur, who was pulled after allowing four .Smug ( : . . ; .: : - goals on 18 shots in two periods. "It's just a question of getting everyone back to their game. When you lose two guys with a lot of experience (defensemen Shawn Chambers and Dave Ellett), that's got to affect you a little bit We have a lot of new bodies and we have to get used to each other." One of those new bodies, rookie Brad Bombardir, made his NHL debut and was actually one of the steadier defensemen. He and partner Ken Daneyko were plus-1. "He played well. He was in control," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We were confident when he was on the ice. He moved the puck well and didn't make a lot of mistakes." "I was little nervous in the afternoon, but as soon as I got to the rink and got on the ice, I felt right at home," Bombardir said. "I wanted to feel comfortable and confident and feel I could play. I don't think there's one thing I won't remember about the game." Except for an outcome he would rather forget (SoneiTutni uainitts noil off Jersey By SHERRY ROSS Dairy News Sports Writer Tlandover; Wi 4 Bill Guerin, a h pej-grown Devil who Ik foF the team lead in goa' last season, has demahv fl a trade after coming jo he conclusion that his-eon-tract negotiatiorisHtve come to a dead endJ: "We don't like v jiat they're offering 'feid Guerin, who is be! f ed to be asking mom 'Ban $500,000 per year tne Devils latest -"We just can't come agreement j-f . Asked if he thou and Guerin had re an impasse, Devils' Lamoriello said, "I don't know." A Group II free agent Guerin missed all of training camp. Lamoriello and Guerin's agent Bob Murray, last spoke on Thursday night, the same day the Devils agreed to terms with Brian Rolston. Lamoriello's response to the trade demand was a brusque, "He will not get traded. It's that simple." "Then it's going to be a long year," said Guerin after being informed of Lamoriello's remarfcm "I guess I'm a little disapi- . pointed. I think I'ra Wbrti ' a lot more than th&'re willing to give. Th8say they want me and KB bei-lieve that but I'm 'no goi-ing to just fit into theisat aryl structure., rfnolt doing this to be a idea guy and they're not Ming niee guys, either- &S T "I have to make a living," added Gue,jU n, whose salary request ojf an estimated $L5 rojllior-$2 million is certauily market value (hemade $743,700 last seasoiiK "t don't think I'm being difficult Throughout my career I've done everything the Devils have asked and more. Every year I've improved. I've worked hard. I've had nothing handed to me." Guerin scored a career-high 29 goals last season after a strong showing on the international stage at the World Cup for gold medal-winning Team USA. Guerin, who will turn 27 next month, is considered to be one of the top power forward in the NHL, yet he has WeVer seemed to earn' favor with coach Jacques JjLej-maire. - i"i9ir "'A change wbjSIJrPbt gooa ror me, .liirenn said. - i 1 'MWTIO

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