Islanders slide past Toronto

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2002

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- In simple white lettering on a black screen above the ice, the video monitor implored the New York Islanders to win ''For Kenny and Michael.''

They did.

Kip Miller and Mariusz Czerkawski scored 38 seconds apart early in the third period as the Islanders -- playing without their steadiest defenseman and captain -- tied their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 5-3 victory Sunday night.

Game 7 is Tuesday night in Toronto.

Questionable hits by the Maple Leafs in Game 5 left Kenny Jonsson sidelined indefinitely with a concussion and Michael Peca out at least six months with a torn ligament in his knee.

After Czerkawski's second goal of the game gave the Islanders a 5-2 lead at 3:49, the rowdy Nassau Coliseum crowd chanted, ''Michael Peca! Michael Peca!''

Peca watched the game from a luxury box high above the ice.

Miller, who spent the first half of the season in the AHL, scored at 3:11 of the third for his third goal of the series. He then assisted on Czerkawski's goal.

Adrian Aucoin and Alexei Yashin also scored for the Islanders, who had the worst record in the league last season.

Wade Belak, Jonas Hoglund and Gary Roberts scored for Toronto, which remained without Mats Sundin (broken wrist) and Mikael Renberg (hamstring/pelvis).

Islanders goalie Chris Osgood turned in a strong game, stopping 31 shots

Curtis Joseph alternated between brilliant and baffling for Toronto. He made spectacular stops in difficult situations but also faltered. He couldn't be blamed much for Czerkawski's second goal -- he had been tackled behind the net by teammate Bryan McCabe. Joseph came out of net to clear the puck, but got in the way of the racing McCabe. Czerkawski whipped the puck into an open net.

Joseph finished with 29 saves.

Roberts scored a power-play goal at 6:41 of the third to close the gap to 5-3.

Aucoin gave the Isles a 3-2 lead at 1:35 of the second period off a picture-perfect power-play set up. At the point, Yashin slid the puck across to Roman Hamrlik, who batted the puck to the ice with his glove and sent it down to Shawn Bates at the left post. Bates' shot hit the far post, but caromed out to an unmanned Aucoin, who flipped it into the open net.

Some scores were settled in the final 2 minutes of the second and third periods.

In the second, with the Islanders leading 3-2, Toronto's Roberts and Darcy Tucker -- the players who caused the Jonsson and Peca injuries -- were the victims. After a partially missed check by Eric Cairns on Roberts, Cairns went flying into the Toronto bench. As he bent over the boards, his stick jerked up and cut the side of Roberts' face. No penalty was called.

A few seconds later, New York's Steve Webb nailed Tucker with a high hit into the boards. Tucker fell to the ice and then chased after the referees to angrily argue his case. No penalty was called.

With 2 minutes left in the game, Cairns pummeled Shayne Corson with a series of 12 punches to the head. A few feet away, Shawn Bates and Tucker fought to a draw.

As Bates and Cairns left the ice with fighting penalties, they tapped fists.

With Peca and Jonsson out, the Islanders naturally had difficulty on defense. New York took a quick 2-0 lead midway through the first period, only to see it disappear by the end of the first twenty minutes.

Czerkawski scored a power-play goal at 5:07 and Yashin notched his second goal of the series at 13:26.

Belak and Hoglund scored just over two minutes apart late in the period to tie it.

Before the beginning of the game, the home crowd drowned out the playing of The Canadian national anthem with boos.



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