Nielsen hurt as Isles stall in Jersey

Crazy, crazy game. Scoreless until the 19th minute, when the Devils score two deflection goals just 10 seconds apart. In the 2nd, Hilbert pulls the Isles within one on a shot from the sideboards -- only to be answered on the next shift by a Salvador long shot that bounced off Campoli's skate and in.

Wildest moment: a generously given full 2-minute Devils 5-on-3 -- on which two out of three Islanders penalty killers broke their sticks. The Islanders survived for 90 seconds, Sutton and Witt diving, stickless, to block shots before the inevitable goal went in upstairs.

Despite responding well to the two quick goals at the end of the 1st, the Isles never really got into a groove tonight, the Devils answering each time they pulled within one.

Some officiating quibbles: Probably depends on the official's view, but I was surprised -- as were four Islanders -- that they didn't blow play dead on the delayed penalty where Gionta scored. MacDonald and Campoli were both holding the puck on their sticks in the crease, but apparently not long enough or clearly enough to end the delay. Ah well, tie should always go to the offense. You want a whistle, you fire that puck or cover it.

But the calls on Mottau's hit to Frans Nielsen's head were much more disturbing. Chico Resch on the Devils feed attested to clean intent by Mottau, which is fine. But when you fly laterally across the zone to go for the big hit, and your target tries to avoid it, and you react to his avoidance by raising and extending your arm to his head -- that's a significant penalty to me.

"I know it was to the head," [Bill] Guerin said. "I know Mike Mottau. He's not a dirty player, but it was a dirty hit. Thomas Pock is not a dirty player, but he had a dirty hit against Ottawa and he paid for it."


Recently, Islander D-man Thomas Pock got 5 minutes, an ejection, and a 5-game suspension for raising his elbow at the last second as Senator Ryan Shannon skated by. So what did Mottau get for flying across the zone and carelessly raising his arm to catch Nielsen in the head? Two minutes for elbowing. Excuse me? What, exactly, does it take to convert a 2-minute elbow to the head into a double-minor or 5-minute elbowing major?

Making it worse, when Trent Hunter did the "hockey code" thing and fought Mottau immediately following, Hunter got not only a 2-minute instigator and 5-minute major but also a 10-minute misconduct. The refs, frankly, botched this whole sequence. No point worrying about hits to the head when the officials don't even know when they see one.

Nielsen looked woozy from the head hit -- and worse, he was helped off dazed and limping because his ankle buckled on the hit, too. It's a shame, because Nielsen was absolutely flying around the ice as if under highly caffeinated IV. He was arguably the best Islander out there -- a reason why Mottau targeted him, perhaps?

I don't blame Nielsen for not seeing Mottau coming, because Mottau even had a "screen" of another Islander to help obscure himself from Nielsen's view until the last, instant-reaction second. Nope, this one's all on Mottau.

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