Islanders score early to blank Red Wings

Paul Harris, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Holding on to leads late in games has been a problem for the New York Islanders this season, but it was not a concern on Monday night.
Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his 56th career shutout and the Islanders beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 at Joe Louis Arena.
The Islanders scored all of their goals in the game's first 17 minutes.
"We just wanted to stick with it and keep playing and not think about the things that could happen," said center and captain John Tavares, who had an assist.
Right winger Kyle Okposo, right winger Michael Grabner and center Casey Cizikas scored for the Islanders (11-20-7), who have the NHL's third-worst record. It was only the Islanders' third win in their last 17 (3-10-4) and Nabokov's first shutout of the season.
"I thought we had an extra gear tonight. They might have come out flat but we did a good job to get on 'em," Okposo said.
Petr Mrazek stopped 16 shots for Detroit (17-13-9).
"I thought our intensity in the first period wasn't good enough," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "They scored on their shots and I don't think we did much. They didn't do much either, but they scored.
"The bottom line is we played catchup all night long. I thought we made it easy on their team. We never got in on their D, we weren't physical like we have been, or heavy in the offensive zone."
The Islanders led 3-0 after the first period.
Okposo opened the scoring with 9:03 left in the opening period when he put a cross-crease pass into the empty-side of the net off the rush for his 12th goal. Grabner got his fifth goal, with 4:53 remaining in the first, when his shot from the left circle deflected off the stick of Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith.
Cizikas made it 3-0, with 3:05 left in the first period, when he put in a one-time shot from in front of the net. It was Cizikas' fourth goal.
"I thought our guys started on time. We got the three goals, but we did some good things out there," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We battled. ... In the end, it's the will to compete and I thought we did."
Tavares hit the goal post less than 30 seconds into the second period.
Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson went to the locker room during the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Babcock said Ericsson was taken to the hospital and his condition will be updated on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Red Wings were already without a number of players due to injury, including captain and center Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc), winger Johan Franzen (possible concussion) and starting goalie Jimmy Howard but had won their previous two games.
"We had a number of injuries, but began to battle our way back to get some traction," Babcock said.
Detroit right winger Todd Bertuzzi limped to the locker room holding his left leg late in the second period after being hit with a shot from teammate and defenseman Kyle Quincey, but returned to start the third period.
Detroit right winger Patrick Eaves hit the crossbar about five minutes into the third period and right winger Gustav Nyquist hit the goal post a little more than a minute later.
NOTES: Petr Mrazek started in goal for Detroit after Jonas Gustavsson came down with a tender groin and sat out as a precaution. ... The Islanders played at Joe Louis Arena for the first time since Dec. 31, 2010. ... Red Wings RW Gustav Nyquist returned after missing three games with a groin injury. ... New York LW Matt Martin is from Windsor, Ontario, which is across the Detroit River from Detroit. ... Detroit C Stephen Weiss underwent successful sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia on Monday morning. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks, and the Red Wings are shooting for him to be back after the Olympic break, which ends Feb. 26. ... A power outage in downtown Detroit forced the Red Wings to have their pregame skate Monday morning in a partially lighted Joe Louis Arena.

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