Islanders ‘bounce back’ into third place
Three-Goal Second-Period Outburst Fuels 4-1 Win over Detroit
An ugly 6-3 loss in Carolina on Saturday had the New York Islanders chomping at the bit to resume their winning ways Monday afternoon at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
Bolstered by 28 saves from Thomas Greiss and a three-goal outburst in the second period, our borough’s NHL franchise did just that, rolling to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in front of a Presidents’ Day crowd of 15,795 on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
“I had a lot of faith in our team to bounce back after the game that we had [Saturday],” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano noted after New York climbed back into the all-important third spot in the Metropolitan Division standings. “I thought we played three solid periods.”
“We were pretty down on ourselves after last game,” added Ryan Strome, who capped the scoring with a third-period tally. “We know it’s a long season and you can’t get too high or too low, but it was a strong effort and bounce back today.”
The Islanders (30-19-6, 66 points) were victimized by five second-period goals during Saturday’s lopsided loss to the Hurricanes. After a scoreless opening stanza Monday afternoon, they put together a game-deciding run of their own as Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey and Marek Zidlicky lit the lamp during an eight-minute span of the second that gave New York a commanding 3-0 lead.
Greiss, who won his fifth straight start between the pipes and is seriously challenging primary goaltender Jaroslav Halak for more playing time, flirted with a shutout before Pavel Datsyuk cut the margin to 3-1 midway through the third period.
Strome answered less than three minutes later off feeds from team captain John Tavares and Nick Leddy, powering the Islanders to their fourth consecutive win at Barclays, a stretch in which they’ve outscored the opposition by a 22-7 margin.
“The team played real well,” said Greiss, who improved to 16-6-2 on the season while lowering his goals-against average to 2.16.
“It was a big comeback for us after last game, it wasn’t the best,” he added. “They are important points, especially against that team. It was a big win.”
New York moved one point ahead of fourth-place New Jersey and within four points of the East River rival Rangers for second spot in the Metropolitan. Only the top three teams in each division are assured of a playoff berth, while those under that line will compete for a wild-card berth.
“It gives you confidence that you can play against good hockey teams,” Capuano said. “All areas of our game — power play, penalty kill, special teams and our structure — were good here tonight.”
The Isles, who have not won a playoff series since 1993, will have to grind their way through the final 27 games if they hope to receive an opportunity to snap that embarrassing drought.
After hosting first-place Washington here on Thursday night, New York will play 12 of its next 14 games on the road, including a four-game trip beginning Friday evening against the Devils.
“It’s good to get back on track before Washington,” Strome said.
Isle Have Another: Nelson, who also had an assist during the Isles’ big second period, potted his career-high 21st goal Monday, and has compiled 100 career points during his three seasons in the league. “It’s special,” Nelson said of reaching the milestone. “It brings you back to the road so far. It’s been three years or so, a lot of memories. Definitely something you’ll remember and hopefully just the start of many more.” … Halak, who surrendered all six goals against Carolina on Saturday night, is 13-12-4 with a 2.42 GAA this season. Capuano is also still carrying third-string netminder Jean-Francois Berube (1-1, 3.21) on the roster, though the rookie has been scratched regularly since making six saves in relief of Halak at Detroit Feb. 6 … Bailey’s second-period goal marked the sixth game in a row the Isles have scored at least once with the man advantage. New York held Detroit scoreless on four power-play opportunities. “Our best penalty killer has to be our goalie and he was,” Capuano said of Greiss … Over his last 10 contests, Tavares has had 15 points (six goals, nine assists).
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