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Islanders 5, Devils 3: Solid team win for returning fans at the Coli

All 6 defensemen got on the scoresheet tonight as the Islanders won (mostly) convincingly in front of a crowd of 1,000 healthcare workers.

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders
Brock’s insurance goal was huge in the third
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Islanders were dominant for the first two periods of the game before letting the Devils back into it with a couple of weak goals from Ilya Sorokin and some poor defensive play, but the win streak continues on with the Isles putting 5 goals on the board to secure the game.

The bigger story now is related to Anders Lee’s injury. Barry Trotz didn’t provide an update after the game, but Lee left in the first after getting tangled up with Pavel Zacha and falling awkwardly. He didn’t put a lot of weight on his right leg after that and had to be helped off the ice. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious for the captain...

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First Period

The fourth line opened the scoring early, as a Matt Martin point shot through traffic beat Mackenzie Blackwood.

A little later, Adam Pelech did a nice job keeping the puck in the zone and then benefited from his own nifty play as Ryan Pulock fed him for another shot through traffic that beat Blackwood to make it 2-0.

The fun couldn’t last though as shortly after that, Anders Lee went down. He got tangled up with Pavel Zacha and play had to be stopped as he could only crawl across the ice. When he was on his way to the locker room, it looked like he was able to walk with a limp and support from the trainer, but with no clear update, it’s uncertain exactly what the injury is or how long Lee will be out.

The Isles got a PP near the end of the first as Ty Smith went to the box for interference, but the Devils and their 31st ranked penalty kill were on their game tonight, and got their first kill of the evening.

Second Period

Blackwood made a good save on Josh Bailey on the best opportunity early in the second. The Isles were controlling play but were struggling to convert on their attempts, and it felt like the Devils could get back into this one with a bounce going their way.

Instead, a lot went the Islanders’ way, as Noah Dobson took a shot from the point that fell into the crease as Oliver Wahlstrom was pushed down into Blackwood by Damon Severson. Then, while trying to find the puck, Severson put it into his own net. The Devils challenged the play for goaltender interference, but it was ruled that the call on the ice was confirmed and the goal was good - and credited to Dobson.

The Devils killed the Isles power play that followed the unsuccessful challenge, with JG Pageau having the best look of the man advantage.

Shortly after, Matt Martin got his skate on a Cal Clutterbuck pass to prevent an icing, hit Severson to separate him from the puck, which Casey Cizikas picked up and passed to Josh Bailey as he was coming off the bench. Bailey scored this time and made it 4-0.

Third Period

Early in the third, a PK Subban shot hit Sorokin, who left a rebound that Janne Kuokkanen picked up and popped over Sorokin to make it 4-1. About 30 seconds after that, Mikhail Maltsev made it 4-2, catching Sorokin with a shot that beat him on the near post.

Barry Trotz called a timeout after that, and 40 seconds later, Ryan Pulock set up Brock Nelson alone in front of Blackwood, and he scored to make it 5-2.

Ryan Murray went to the box for four minutes after high sticking Casey Cizikas and cutting him on the chin. Jordan Eberle hit the crossbar on the best attempt of a pretty terrible power play that ended itself early when a bad change between Mat Barzal and Brock Nelson gave the Islanders a too many men on the ice infraction.

The Isles had good pressure on the penalty kill, with Cal Clutterbuck hitting the crossbar for another good chance. The Islanders killed the penalty, but with just about 5 minutes left, Jack Hughes pulled off a nice move to score to make it 5-3.

After the Hughes goal, the Devils were pushing, and the Islanders were bailed out when Kyle Palmieri was called for interference on JG Pageau with a little over two minutes left in the game. The Isles didn’t score on this power play, either, but they did kill time, giving the Devils minimal time to pull the goalie for 6 on 5 ice time, which helped to secure the 5-3 win.

Quick Thoughts

  • The Lee-Barzal-Eberle line has been incredibly good this season, and Lee’s been an important part of that, leading the team with 12 goals. Losing him for any serious chunk of time would be a serious setback.
  • Sorokin was shaky tonight, highlighting that he’s still got some adjusting to do to go from elite KHL goalie to elite NHL goalie. Right now, he’s showing that he belongs in the backup role, with more time against some of the weaker competition the Isles face this season.
  • After a slow start to the season, Brock Nelson’s heated up, and he’s now second on the team in goals with 11.
  • Ryan Pulock, on the other hand, is still waiting for his first goal of the season. But he’s been contributing offensively, as his 12 assists are third on the team behind Nick Leddy (who only has one goal, but 16 apples) and Mat Barzal (9 goals, 14 assists).

Up Next

Next, same matchup, but in New Jersey for the first half of a back to back in this series of three games against the Devils.