After beating the first-overall team in their rink on New Year’s Eve, the Islanders were supposed to return to New York for a New Year reward: a home date with the last-in-the-Metro New Jersey Devils.
The Devils spoiled the party at Nassau Coliseum, however, by generating plenty of offensive chances of their own while keeping everyone but Brock Nelson off the board.
Nelson opened scoring in the second period after a Leo Komarov goal was called off for interference:
Nelson’s goal on another vicious screened wrister healed that wound, but the Devils tied it late in the period on a P.K. Subban blast, and Nico Hischier scored the go-ahead goal early in the third.
That held up as the winner, with Hischier winning an offensive zone draw against Nelson and then beating him to the net with a great power move to score:
The Devils kept up the pressure and forced several good saves from Semyon Varlamov (29 saves on 31 shots) to keep the game within one, and they didn’t allow the Isles many good looks until Varlamov had been pulled for a sixth attacker for the final two-and-a-half minutes.
One of the better chances for an equalizer came from Anthony Beauvillier’s persistent checking followed by a heads-up pass to Derick Brassard in the slot. Thought several Islanders are looking a little off lately, Beauvillier has not been one of them.
Overall, the Devils subjected the Isles to a little of their own medicine, keeping many shots to the outside and marking well to clean up around MacKenzie Blackwood’s crease.
Final #Isles Metrics in the 2-1 loss to NJ via NST— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) January 3, 2020
5v5 Score Adj
60.02% High Danger
47.72% Exp. Goals
60.87% High Danger
47.72% Exp. Goals pic.twitter.com/nQmxfjfmAc
Adam Pelech missed this one with a lower body injury, and Noah Dobson played 11:57 in his stead. The Islanders announced the move just before the game and had no further update as of tonight.
"About halfway through the first period we got away from our game. We just haven't found the back of the net." - Barry Trotz pic.twitter.com/j8QCxxdRxB— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 3, 2020
The Islanders are in Toronto on Saturday, then come back for back-to-back games on Monday vs. the Avalanche and Tuesday in Newark, where they can attempt some revenge on the Devils.