New York (15-15-1) at New Jersey (18-6-0)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Dec 26, 2003
  • TV: FSNY
Preview | Box Score | Recap

One player the New York Islanders could hardly afford to lose is Alexei Yashin.

They’ve lost him.

The Islanders, facing a matchup with the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, play the first of many games over the next couple of months in which they will be without their top center.

Tied for the team lead in goals and points, Yashin had tendons partially severed in his right wrist in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Philadelphia. The injury will force him to miss 10 to 12 weeks.

Yashin’s right arm was cut by the skate of Flyers center Michal Handzus during a scramble that led to Arron Asham’s game-tying goal. He underwent surgery and will be in a cast for four weeks before rehabilitation can begin, but the injury is not career-threatening and Yashin is expected to make a complete recovery.

“The reality is the injury actually could have been even worse,” Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said in a statement. “Still, it’s a big disappointment for our team and our fans. Alexei is one of our leaders and had been playing some of his best hockey over the last few weeks.”

With seven goals and two assists in his last 10 games, Yashin spearheaded the Islanders’ recent resurgence, which the players say developed during a 5-4 win over New Jersey on Dec. 16. The Islanders entered that game having been shut out in the teams’ last three meetings and trailed that night 2-0 and 3-1.

“When you can come back on the Devils, you can come back on anybody,” Dave Scatchard said.

Though the Islanders went on to drop tight road games to the archrival Rangers and the Flyers, they bounced back with a 5-4 road win in Washington on Sunday, their first win in D.C. since 1997.

On Tuesday, New York erased a third-period deficit against Philadelphia with three unanswered goals to move back to .500.

The Devils are returning home following a 3-1-1 road trip, capped by Sunday’s 2-2 tie at Chicago. New Jersey led late in the third period, but Ville Nimenen scored with 3:49 left to pull the Blackhawks even.

“We’re not used to being away from home this long,” Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. “I think it’s working on everybody mentally.

“It’s a tough tie when you’re leading with four minutes left,” he said. “They took it to us.”

Scott Gomez and Scott Stevens scored, and assisted on each other’s goals for New Jersey. Gomez has two goals and seven points during his five-game points streak.

New Jersey has one more five-game road trip this season.

“I’m happy with the point on the road,” Devils coach Pat Burns said. “Any point on the road you’ve got to be happy with. I think we were definitely tired at the end of a road trip.”

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