Both players are on PTOs with the Islanders and both had previously played for New Jersey. The Devils’ line-up tonight was so anonymous that Bernier and Gionta would have qualified as superstars had they played on it. Goalie Cory Schneider and maybe two or three other guys had recognizable names, while the Islanders rolled with four of their six top defenseman, two thirds of their top line and trio of highly-touted rookies.
Andrew Ladd scored his first goal in an Islanders uniform and Mathew Barzal scored what would be the game-winning goal in the third period. Colin Markison put the Islanders up 1-0 in the first with a goal from assists by Barzal and Johnny Boychuk, who had two helpers on the evening.
Gionta’s goal was actually pretty sweet, as he quickly buried a rebound gifted to him by Schneider. I don’t know if he dove, was pushed or just fell down while skating forward, but Gionta went sprawling into the end boards after scoring and was helped up by his celebrating teammates.
Reid Boucher, Miles Wood and Devante Smith-Pelley had the goals for the Devils.
Thomas Greiss made 25 saves in his first game back from serving as Team Europe’s third stringer at the World Cup of Hockey. Schneider, who served the same role for Team USA at that tournament, made 26 saves.
Barzal was impressive again, and not just on the scoresheet. He had several takeaways and was active all night, although he had some adventures in the defensive zone. His goal was scored in the doorstep in a crowd of Devils as he pounced a rebound from Bernier shot.
And if Barzal makes the team, jamming in a puck from the doorstep will help his cause. Skill guy scoring greasy goal makes coach happy.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 4, 2016
Fellow rookies Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang each had assists as well.
The two teams will meet against Wednesday night in New Jersey. In between, the Islanders will play the Rangers on Tuesday night at Barclays and might have John Tavares back in the line-up.