Isles make it 10 straight in return to Brooklyn
Barclays season debut results in longest winning streak since 1982
The New York Islanders weren’t going to let a change in home venue get in the way of their longest winning streak since the Reagan era.
Playing their first game at Downtown’s Barclays Center since last season’s playoffs, the red-hot Islanders streaked to their 10th consecutive victory Tuesday night, rallying past the Ottawa Senators for a 4-1 triumph in front of 11,212 fans on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue.
“We play on the same size rink everywhere in the NHL, which is a great thing,” New York Head Coach Barry Trotz noted after the Isles completed their longest winning streak since a franchise-record 15-game run back in 1982.
“The crowd was good today,” Trotz added. “It was a difficult game. Ottawa is playing good hockey right now. They made us earn everything. … We just stayed with what we do.”
What they’ve done since a 5-2 loss at Carolina on Oct. 11 is find every conceivable way to win a hockey game.
New York has registered two shootout victories and an overtime win during its ongoing run, and has employed its stalwart defense, a surprisingly strong offense and solid goaltending while going nearly a month without tasting defeat.
“It’s tough to do, especially in the league today, the way it is,” admitted veteran Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck, who erased an early 1-0 Ottawa lead with his first goal of the season at 8:23 of the opening period.
“There is no easy night,” Clutterbuck added. “Even a team like [the Senators], that’s trying to build something comes out and give you fits and work extremely hard and they have some talent. Sometimes, a game like that can be tougher than a game against Tampa Bay, but we found a way.”
Cole Bardreau, a minor league journeyman playing in just his seventh NHL game, drove that point home by scoring on a penalty shot for his first career goal to give New York a 2-1 lead with 4:26 remaining in the second period.
Casey Cizikas added a short-handed tally midway through the third stanza and Josh Bailey scored 40 seconds later to cap the Isles’ victory, which was backstopped by veteran netminder Thomas Greiss’ 27 saves.
“Ten’s a big milestone,” said Cizikas after the first of 13 scheduled regular-season games at the Barclays Center this season,
“But every single night we have a game plan, and our coaches are showing us every single day things we can get better at, things that we can work on and areas where we can improve in.”
It’s hard to improve on the way they’ve been playing of late, but the Isles, taking a game-by-game approach, will be back at it on Brooklyn ice tonight when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team they swept out of the opening round of the playoffs last year.
“After games, we’re not having a big party, we know we have a big test vs. Pittsburgh coming up,” Trotz noted. “We just take it game by game. We really do.”
“We’re playing confident,” Cizikas added. “We got four lines that are contributing, we got six [defenseman] that are getting the puck up, moving quick and being solid in our own end, and we got two goalies that are playing outstanding, they’re making big saves when we need them to.”
After hosting the Penguins, the Isles will play their third straight game in Brooklyn against Florida on Saturday before returning to NYCB Live, better known as the renovated Nassau Coliseum, next Wednesday against former team captain John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Isle Have Another: Bardreau, a 26-year-old rookie who had played 230 games in the American Hockey League before making his NHL debut earlier this month, became just the seventh player in league history to score his first career goal on a penalty shot after beating Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson to put New York in front to stay Tuesday. “Going out there right before they blew the whistle and looking up, it was pretty surreal. It was crazy and the nerves were going pretty good. I’m just grateful that one fell,” said Bardreau. … Isles center Derick Brassard played in his 800th career game Tuesday, but failed to score a goal for the first time in six games. One of General Manager Lou Lamoriello’s offseason pickups, Brassard has six points (five goals and an assist) in his last six games.
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