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Islanders find no positives in loss

11/9/2003

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Pasi Nurminen's big fear became reality when a New York Islanders shot beat him from center ice.

Sure he was upset, and in the past he might have even been
completely shaken.

But on Saturday night, Trent Hunter's long, bouncing drive was
the last one to get into the Atlanta net, and the Thrashers hung
around long enough to beat the Islanders 4-3.

"It's never easy when you let a goal like that in," Nurminen
said. "I've been learning not to let that bother me, and tonight I
think I did a pretty good job."

Especially considering he saw Ottawa's Patrick Lalime allow a
similar goal on Monday to New York's Jason Wiemer -- a drive taken
from the center-ice logo.

"I think about it, like I'm not going to let that happen, but
...," Nurminen said.

Serge Aubin scored with 8:32 left, finishing off another
Thrashers rally.

Nurminen made two big saves at the end of an Islanders power
play, and Shawn McEachern then rushed the puck on a two-on-one. He
faked a slap shot, and passed to Aubin, who beat a diving Rick
DiPietro.

Ronald Petrovicky, Ivan Majesky and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored
for the Thrashers, off to their best start at 7-4-3-1. Atlanta is
4-3-3-1 in games it trailed 1-0.

"We've got to find a way to stop being down 1-0, 2-0," Aubin
said. "The pace keeps going up in this league and once we play
those playoff teams, everybody knows that once they have a one-goal
lead it's pretty hard to come back."

Shawn Bates and Mariusz Czerkawski also had goals for the
Islanders, who fell to 6-2 at home.

Islanders coach Steve Stirling, usually an optimist, was unable
to find positives in this loss.

"Not one," he said.

The Thrashers used a second-period spurt to get back in this
one. And they were able to do it following a 4-2 loss at Columbus
on Friday that led to a postgame meeting.

"It's not because it's closed doors that garbage cans are
flying and that kind of stuff," coach Bob Hartley said. "Those
guys are working, and sometimes even though we work hard, sometimes
we have to work better and tonight we did that."

Petrovicky made it 2-1 at 8:22 with his second goal in as many
nights. Majesky got the Thrashers even 1:08 later.

New York then called time out, but the Thrashers -- outshot 30-23
-- needed only 59 seconds to grab the lead.

"We're good enough to be able to control that lead but somehow
we let them back into the game," Czerkawski said.

Kovalchuk, the NHL's goal leader with 13, inched in from the
left point -- his power-play spot -- and ripped a drive past a
screened DiPietro. It was the Thrashers' ninth shot of the game,
giving Atlanta three goals on its first five in the period.

DiPietro spread his hands wide in exasperation as the Islanders'
two-goal lead turned into a deficit in a span of 2:07.

"We have a lot of character and they always say good teams find
a way to win," Aubin said. "Right now, we're finding a way to win
hockey games and that's what counts."

New York has allowed five power-play goals in 60 chances,
ranking first in the NHL entering play Saturday.

The Thrashers rallied from a two-goal deficit for the fifth time
this season to earn a standings point (4-0-0-1). They didn't
protect their first lead long.

Hunter was a stride short of the red line along the right-wing
boards when he unleashed a shot that squeezed between Nurminen's
pads. The rookie has scored in four straight games and has six
goals in six games.

Nurminen made a beautiful save 52 seconds into the middle period
to temporarily keep the Islanders' lead at 1-0. Alexei Yashin took
a pass at the left post and seemed to be in line for a dunk shot,
but Nurminen stopped it.

Twenty seconds later, Yashin set up Czerkawski, who scored at
1:13.

Czerkawski was bought out by Montreal and then exposed by New
York in the waiver draft by the Islanders. But he has surprised
with 10 goals and five assists in 13 games.

Bates gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 1:56 of the first,
deflecting in Hunter's shot.

Game Notes: New Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine was honored before
the game. LaFontaine played the first eight NHL seasons with the
Islanders. ... All of Petrovicky's four goals this season have come
on the road, including one Friday against Columbus.