The New York Rangers grabbed all the headlines in the offseason. Signing big ticket free agents such as Chris Drury and Scott Gomez will do that in this town, and the Blueshirts were the sexy pick in the Eastern Conference. The New Jersey Devils lost Gomez, but made a splash with their new arena in Newark. The Islanders? Critics had a field day with all of their free agent defections and predicted disaster for them. But after the first eight games of the regular season, it was the team from Long Island that was tied for second place in the Atlantic Division and the other two metropolitan area teams holding up the bottom.
To start off the campaign, the Islanders swept a home-at-home two-game set from the Buffalo Sabres, and have beaten the Rangers (2-1 on October 10) and Devils (4-3 in overtime on October 20) at the Nassau Coliseum. Overall, the Isles have five wins versus three losses, with their only bad game coming in a 8-1 loss in Toronto a day after the Ranger win. Their other two losses have been by a combined three goals, so they have been in every game besides the one blowout loss to the Maple Leafs.
In Saturday’s win against New Jersey, the Islanders pulled off a stunner on Firefighter Appreciation Night by scoring the game-winner on a power play with only 3.7 seconds left in the extra session. Chris Campoli took a shot from the point and new captain Bill Guerin found the loose puck and was able to jam it passed Devils’ goaltender Kevin Weekes, erupting the fans into a frenzy.
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