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No place quite like home for Islanders

Continue Barclays Center dominance with 5-2 win over Canucks

November 29, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Andrew Ladd’s opening score sparked a three-goal first period for the Islanders Tuesday night as they remained unbeaten in regulation at Barclays Center this season with a 5-2 victory over Vancouver. AP Photo by Craig Ruttle
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Islanders ownership is admittedly eager, if not desperate, to win the bid for a new arena situated in Elmont, N.Y.

Barclays Center owner Mikhail Prokhorov would be more than happy if the NHL franchise moves into its new digs within the next few seasons, if not sooner.

And yet, the Islanders would be hard-pressed to find a rink where they’ve had as much success since moving in two-plus seasons ago, continuing that trend with Tuesday night’s impressive 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in front of 11,194 fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

Team captain John Tavares and Anders Lee each had a goal and an assist as New York improved to 8-0-2 at Barclays this season with its fourth consecutive win overall and seventh in the last eight games.

The Isles haven’t begun a season this hot at home since opening with a 9-1 mark in 1984-85 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“We’ve been good at home so far and want to keep that going,” said Jordan Eberle, who picked up his 400th career point with New York’s third goal of the opening period and 10th of the season.

The irony of the Islanders thriving in an arena they reportedly can’t wait to leave, while getting nudged out the door by Prokhorov, didn’t just materialize during this thus-far successful start to the 2017-18 campaign.

It’s simply more pronounced.

Since relocating here from The Coliseum in advance of the 2015-16 season, the Isles have gone a combined 55-23-14 on home ice, and picked up their only postseason series win since 1993 in the process.

With the club steamrolling into Friday night’s home game against Ottawa, nary a word has been heard about shoddy ice conditions, poor sight lines and low attendance numbers at Barclays.

Nor have team owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin been openly discussing the Bid for Proposal they entered for that land adjacent to the legendary Belmont Race Track on Long Island back in September.

Instead, the team has been quietly thriving under head coach Doug Weight with a league-leading average of 3.67 goals per contest, and has tallied at least five times in seven of the eight home wins.

“We have a pretty explosive team and guys who are playing with a lot of confidence,” noted Weight.

“We have a lot of guys who feel good about scoring. I like that mentality that we have.”

Super rookie Mathew Barzal extended his points streak to seven games with an assist, giving him 24 points on the season, more than any other first-year player on the circuit.

Veteran Andrew Ladd opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal, Calvin de Haan netted his first of the season during New York’s furious first period and veteran netminder Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots.

“When we play the right way and play the way we want to, it’s really effective,” said Lee.

The Isles have been going right ever since Weight took the helm from former long-time coach Jack Capuano last New Year’s Eve. New York went 24-12-4 to close last season, missing out on a third straight postseason berth by a single point.

Now, the Isles (15-7-2) stand just one point behind Columbus for first place in the tightly packed Metropolitan Division race, and are still unbeaten in regulation in Downtown Brooklyn despite owning the second-worst home attendance average in the league.

In other words, there has been no place quite like home for these Isles, even if they are in hot pursuit of a new one.

Isle Have Another: The Isles’ home dominance has been even greater against visitors from the West Coast. By beating Vancouver on Tuesday night, New York improved to 5-0-2 vs. Western Conference opponents at Barclays this season and boast an overall mark of 26-4-5 versus left coast visitors since moving here … Tavares’ two points Tuesday gave him 565 for his career, leaving him just one behind Pat LaFontaine for sixth place on the team’s all-time list … Despite their hot start, the Isles continued to struggle on special teams, allowing their league-high eighth shorthanded goal. New York also went 0-for-3 with the man advantage, ending a run of scoring at least one power-play goal in six consecutive contests … Following Friday night’s game with Ottawa, the Isles will head out on a four-game, six-day road trip, beginning with a Monday night visit to Florida to take on the Panthers.

* * *

In local college sports news, Joel Hernandez and Julian Batts scored 13 points apiece, but LIU Brooklyn suffered a 73-69 loss to the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J., on Tuesday night, falling to 2-6 on the season.

The Blackbirds, who also got 12 points and 12 rebounds from Raiquan Clark during their third consecutive defeat, are doubtlessly eager to get back to Brooklyn, where they will host the University of Hartford on Thursday night.

LIU has only played once here at the Steinberg Center thus far this season, beating Division III College of New Rochelle, 104-68, on Nov. 15.


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