Red Wings add to Islanders' frustrating November

Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A month that began as a nightmare for the Detroit Red Wings concluded in impressive fashion Friday afternoon. But there is no reprieve from the November blues for the New York Islanders.
Center Darren Helm and right winger Daniel Alfredsson each scored two goals and goaltender Jimmy Howard made 29 saves as the Red Wings beat the slumping New York Islanders 5-0 at Nassau Coliseum.
Right winger Gustav Nyquist also scored as the Red Wings (13-7-7) won their third in a row -- a stretch in which they outscored the opposition 14-2 -- and their fourth in five games since they lost seven in a row, including five in overtime or the shootout, from Nov. 4-19.
"I don't know if we're doing a whole lot different than what we were doing when we were losing all those games in overtime and shootout," Helm said. "Just the confidence of the puck going in is with us right now and we got some good bounces."
The fortunes of the two teams were neatly summarized late in the second period, when Helm benefited from one of the most bizarre bounces of the season.
The Red Wings were trying to kill off a penalty when a loose puck skittered across center ice. Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin raced out to clear it, but Helm sprinted past Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald and got a stick on the puck as he collided with Poulin.
Helm went head over heels as the puck rolled into the net, followed by his stick, to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. MacDonald flipped over Poulin as well and both players remained down for a couple minutes but remained in the game.
"It's the old cliche: You make your own bounces, you make your own luck," Alfredsson said. "Do enough good things, good things will happen. Obviously, that's a very lucky goal. But I think for a team like us, we're going pretty good and they're struggling and they get a goal like that against them, that's tough mentally."
Helm's goal seemed to deflate the Islanders, who gave up three goals in the third period -- the third straight game in which they've surrendered a three-goal period and the 10th time this season they've allowed at least three goals in a single period.
Alfredsson's breakaway goal 12 seconds into the third period ensured the only bit of remaining suspense would be whether or not Howard -- who had lost seven in a row (0-3-4) and was benched for consecutive games earlier this week -- would complete his second shutout of the season and the 18th of his career.
Howard made multiple impressive saves in the third period, when he turned back a pair of point-blank chances by Islanders center John Tavares and preserved the shutout in the final minute by stopping a close range wrist shot from center Brock Nelson.
"For me, it's just like life. When things go bad, if you stick with the process and you stick together and you keep working, things work out for you," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Nothing is working out for the Islanders, who are on the verge of falling out of playoff contention after yet another miserable November.
While the Red Wings were at least salvaging points during their losing streak, the Islanders (8-15-3) have lost five in a row in regulation -- a stretch in which they've never led -- and are 4-10-0 in November, which will conclude when Pittsburgh visits on Saturday night.
"With our mistakes, we're obviously an easy team to play against right now," Tavares said. "We're not hard enough to play against."
New York, which is tied for the fourth-fewest points in the NHL, is just 9-24-5 in the last three Novembers and went 4-9-1 in February, which was the second month of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
"It's game after game of big points slipping by," Tavares said. "And we have to figure it out, sooner rather than later."
The frustrated crowd of 14,826 took out its frustrations on coach Jack Capuano -- who took over as the Islanders' coach during their 1-7-3 November in 2010 -- by chanting "Fire Cappy" during the third period.
"I've been in the business a long time and I understand that," Capuano said. "But at the end of the day, we're working hard as a staff to prepare our team and to win a hockey game."
Poulin, who has been in net for all five Islanders losses, made 25 saves.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched C Josh Bailey, LW Eric Boulton and D Calvin de Haan. All were healthy scratches. ... New York recalled de Haan, its first-round pick in 2009, from Bridgeport on Thursday and sent down D Matt Donovan in a corresponding move. ... The Red Wings scratched RW Todd Bertuzzi (shoulder) and C Pavel Datsyuk (concussion). Datsyuk has missed three straight games while Bertuzzi has been sidelined for four games. Neither player is expected to return to the lineup before Detroit returns home and hosts Philadelphia on Wednesday, though Bertuzzi traveled with the Red Wings to New York. Detroit RW Daniel Alfredsson played in his 1,200th career game. He is the 10th active player to reach that milestone. ... Playing on Black Friday is nothing new for either team. The Islanders have played on 12 consecutive Black Fridays dating back to 2000 while the Red Wings have played on 11 of the last 12 Black Fridays, with 2007 being the lone exception.

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