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Stung by no-goal replay, Islanders hit fast forward

One more day of watching replays changed nothing. The New York Islanders think they scored late in Game Four to tie the game. The Buffalo Sabres say the referees were correct to wave off the goal.

What matters now is how the Islanders respond to their perceived injustice.

Coaches and players spent part of Thursday reviewing tape of the previous night's 4-2 Sabres win that put them one victory away from the second round. The Islanders' Brendan Witt pushed the puck across the goal line with 1:42 to play Wednesday to seemingly tie the score at 3, but referee Mike Leggo blew the whistle after seeing Witt push Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller into the net.

"They're just trying to cause some controversy to get their guys mad about something, and it's understandable," Miller said Thursday. "It was very close, but I feel the play stayed between my legs until I was pushed.

"Actually, both guys [Witt and fellow puck-chaser Miroslav Satan] made really smart plays. They led with their sticks, but I was able to get my pad in front. I watched the replay. Witt's stick hit my pad, not the puck. If it hits the puck, it's secondary."

Countered Islanders coach Ted Nolan: "As far as we're concerned that was a goal, but, hey, what can we do about it? We've just got to move on and get ready for the next one."

The disallowed goal felt like an uppercut to the jaw for the Islanders, but they intend to use it as motivation for Game Five tonight in HSBC Arena. "Beat the officials, too," is how forward Ryan Smyth put it.

"You give yourself a little bit of time to feel bad about things, feel sorry for yourself," Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro said. "After you get past that and look at the big picture, you realize that the series is a long way from over."

***

Jochen Hecht could only smile. He doesn't have to look at the stat sheets to know what he's got for his series-high 16 shots: a big, fat zero in the goal column.

"It's not going in for me yet," the Sabres left winger said with a grin and shrug. "It's a little bit frustrating when you get seven shots in a game there one night [in Game Three] and nothing goes in for you. But we're winning, so that's OK. If we weren't getting chances that would be something else, but we're still getting chances."

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Jason Blake's reaction to getting boarded by Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen? Ouch.

"I thought I broke my back," the New York forward said. "It hurt like hell. I didn't think it would hurt that bad, but it did.

"I didn't hit my head. That was a good thing. I moved my head to the side. I just hit my shoulder and my back. I feel fine other than that."

Numminen was penalized for putting Blake into the boards from behind late in the first period Wednesday. Blake isn't holding a grudge, for the most part.

"He's not like that," Blake said. "He's a hard guy and a competitor. I can't get overly mad at him because he normally doesn't do things like that. At the same token, he cross-checked me and then he pushed me into the boards."

***

The Islanders trail the series, but one of their biggest fans is dominating on the Internet.

Celebrities are writing about the playoffs at NHL.com, and Isles backer Christie Brinkley is getting the most attention by far. The supermodel has had nearly 161,000 visitors, a lead of more than 58,000 over the second-place blogger, rapper Lil' Jon.

Sabres fans William Fichtner (27,434) of Fox's "Prison Break" and David Boreanaz (24,295), formerly of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," are back in the pack.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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