The New Jersey Devils needed this win far more than the New York Islanders, as the Devils continue their race for a playoff spot this season. Taylor Hall, who has never played in a playoff game in his entire eight season NHL career, showed that he’s been the driving force for this Devils team all season, with two goals and chances for more as he lead New Jersey to the win over the Islanders. For the Islanders’ effort, two unlikely goal scorers stepped forward as Tanner Fritz scored his third NHL goal, and Chris Wagner scored his first as an Islander; Anthony Beauvillier also chipped in as he gets closer to his first 20 goal season.
The game started positively, as Tanner Fritz scored just over a minute in to give the Islanders a quick one goal lead. Fritz was skating on the first line in Josh Bailey’s absence, and John Tavares won a battle for the puck, got it to Brandon Davidson, who then put a shot on net. Keith Kinkaid left a huge rebound which Fritz was able to put cleanly into the empty net.
However, Stefan Noesen tied the game, pushing the puck past Thomas Greiss after some behind the net play. The Devils had been significantly outshooting the Islanders throughout the period.
Taylor Hall scored his first of the game on a power play off an Adam Pelech deflection, and then scored his second of the game when he beat Anders Lee, Nick Leddy, and Johnny Boychuk and wristed it past Greiss.
The Isles would get back within one as Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier combined on the power play, with Beauvillier scoring his 19th of the season to make it 3-2.
Jordan Eberle had a scoring opportunity on a breakaway late in the period, and seemingly drew a penalty shot, however it was just called as a holding penalty. In typical Islanders fashion, this led to Blake Coleman scoring a shorthanded goal to restore the Devils’ two goal lead.
Greiss’ strong play in the third kept the Islanders within two, and a Boychuk shot was deflected by Chris Wagner, giving Wagner his first goal as a New York Islander to make the game 4-3.
The Isles pulled Greiss with 1:30 to go, and despite some great opportunities, were unable to tie the game, falling to the Devils 4-3.
Next, the Islanders face the Philadelphia Flyers in Brooklyn on Tuesday, April 3rd. The Flyers currently hold the first wild card spot in the East, with 92 points. The Isles could potentially have an impact on playoff seeding and standings, with the Florida Panthers still in the race and the Devils just a point back from Philly.