The New York Islanders finally won a game at their new arena on Saturday evening, beating division rival New Jersey 4-2 with the help of two former Devils captains.
Andy Greene scored the game-tying goal and Zach Parise had the go-ahead goal in the second period to give the Islanders their second win in three games. Noah Dobson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored, and Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves, while Mathew Barzal extended his point streak to six games with two assists.
“It was as close to a must-win that we’ve have had all season,” Parise said. “To come out and finally give our home crowd a win is really important for us.”
The Devils announced before the game that captain Nico Hischier and defenseman Ryan Graves are in COVID-19 protocol. Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes scored for New Jersey, but the Devils fell for the sixth time in their last seven games. Akira Schmid stopped 25 of 29 shots in his NHL debut.
“It was a great experience,” Schmid said. “The NHL is just faster. More skill and traffic in front of the net. I was nervous but after the first, it felt like any other game.”
The Islanders' seven-game winless streak at UBS Arena had been the longest stretch in NHL history to open a new arena.
Greene knotted the score at 2-2 with a wrist shot that sailed past the left pad of Schmid at 8:33 of the middle frame. Barzal and Josh Bailey assisted the play.
Parise gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead when he scored his first of the season — and first as an Islander — with 3 1/2 minutes left in the second period while the team was shorthanded. Pageau collected a bouncing puck in the neutral zone and then delivered a spinning, backhanded pass to Parise all alone into the offensive zone.
“That just fires our group right up anytime a guy like that, a well-respected guy that we were obviously happy to get this offseason, he gets the monkey off his back,” Barzal said of Parise. “Hopefully now he can get rolling.”
The 37-year-old Parise signed a one-year deal with the Islanders this summer after the Minnesota Wild bought out the remaining four years of the 13-year contract he signed in July 2012.
Pageau extended the Islanders' lead to 4-2 at 9:37 of the third period when Oliver Wahlstrom’s cross-ice feed set up the one-time opportunity.
Bratt opened the scoring for New Jersey late in the first period when defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler’s pass helped the Swedish winger get behind the Islanders' defense. The 23-year-old leads the team in scoring with 24 points and extended his point streak to five games.
“They were a desperate team," Devils defenseman P.K. Subban said. "They hadn’t won at home. They never took their foot off the gas for 60 minutes. You have to give them credit. They earned the victory.”
But Islanders coach Barry Trotz said it's not enough: “We are still looking up, the view never changes unless you are in front, and we are not in front so the view is not going to change until we start winning some hockey games.”
Dobson tied it up with about two minutes left in the first, but Hughes responded with a slap shot past Sorokin’s glove 40 seconds later to give the Devils a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
Brock Nelson (lower-body injury) and Casey Cizikas (COVID-19 protocol) returned to the Isles' lineup after missing seven and five games, respectively.
Trotz scratched forward Anthony Beauviller for the first time this season. The 24-year-old has three goals, four assists in 21 games after signing a three-year, $12.45 million contract in the offseason. “Internal competition is good,” Trotz said after the morning skate. “It’s very easy to get complacent when you’re in. You’ve got to get to your identity, you’ve got to produce and you have to be productive.”
Zdeno Chara rushed to the defense of his partner Dobson and dropped the gloves with Mason Geersten 6:30 into the opening period. The 44-year-old Chara has been in a fight three times this season, including the Islanders' previous game against the Nashville Predators.
Devils: Visit Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Islanders: At Detroit on Tuesday.
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