A pleasant President's Day afternoon in Brooklyn saw the New York Islanders rebound from a deflating win-streak ender in Carolina on Saturday while dodging a season sweep in a 4-1 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings.
Brock Nelson continued his "hot" season and was joined by Ryan Strome, Josh Bailey and Marek Zidlicky as Islanders who scored on Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who has struggled in several recent starts but drew the afternoon assignment as the Wings completed the second half of a back-to-back.
If Saturday represented a lost opportunity against a Hurricanes team finishing its own back-to-back (but hardly looking like it), Monday afternoon was an opportunity seized against a fatigued team with a shaken goalie.
Thomas Greiss continued his strong season with 28 saves for his 16th win of the season, including some great work on the penalty kill, which killed off four opportunities. Though Strome's goal made it 4-1 at 12:14 of the third period, the game featured no third chapter in the implied timeout wars.
After a scoreless first period the Isles broke out with three goals in the second to position themselves well to finish the job in the final frame.
Nelson's goal to open scoring came on a counterattack with a hilarious catch of a lob pass from Strome at the Wings blueline, which Nelson settled down before popping the rebound past a stunned Howard.
About seven minutes later, Bailey scored on the power play on a rebound after great passing work from the Isles, including Strome on the zone entry.
Just over a minute later it was Zidlicky's turn. He followed the play all the way to Howard's crease, where he retrieved and slipped a rebound in to celebrate his return to the lineup after sitting the last week for Brian Strait.
After Pavel Datsyuk got one back for the Wings in the third, Strome finished scoring from the slot by finishing a sublime backhand pass from John Tavares to extend the captain's point streak.
The Greiss, Greiss Goaltending
Though much of the talk was about Greiss' excellent play this season as he pushes Jaroslav Halak for starts and arguably even the number one role, Bailey's post-game quote put the overall situation in broader -- and literal -- relief:
"I can't think of a time it's been better," Bailey said. "It's a huge boost for the team. Any game you go into, you feel like you've got a goalie that's gonna give you a chance. For the morale of the team going into any game, that's half the battle."
Via Isles PR...
Henrik Zetterberg on the Isles:
"They came out a little faster today. They're a tough team to play against when they get going. They block their pucks in front of their goalie and it's tough to get shots through. It's tough to get a quality chance."
Nelson on the Wings:
"We played them a couple times the last couple weeks, they beat us pretty soundly in Detroit. It's nice to come back out and get two points. Especially, on our home ice against a good team. It's a good stepping stone for us and something we can build off of."
Greiss' play is of particular interest for the next game on the schedule, as the Islanders host the Metro juggernaut Capitals, a team Halak usually plays quite well against.
That game is Thursday and is part of a back-to-back that concludes Friday in Newark. So one way or the other, both goalies are sure to see game time at the end of this week.