The Islanders and Devils were set to match up against each other for the first of eight regular-season games tonight. Moments before the game, Devil’s netminder, Mackenzie Blackwood, was placed on the Covid-19 protocol list. Therefore, Blackwood was ineligible to play and Scott Wedgewood made his first appearance in the NHL in two years. This was a substantial downgrade in net for New Jersey and it showed.
Isles’ First Line in Control
The Islanders’ first line looked significantly better in today’s game. They entered the zone better and had multiple scoring chances. Forward, Mathew Barzal was the first to net a goal. Barzal fired a puck top-shelf and Wedgewood had no chance. The Islanders first line continued to roll from there. Anders Lee won a puck battle along the boards and Jordan Eberle was open and found himself on a breakaway. Eberle deked to the backhand and extended the Islanders lead. The Islanders looked in control against the Devils for the remainder of the period. The loss of Blackwood in addition to Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and Sami Vatanen certainly did not help.
Devils Slice Lead in Half
Semyon Varlamov allowed his first goal of the season to Nathan Bastian. Bastian managed to get the puck barely over Varlamov’s pads for a perfectly placed shot. Varlamov started the season with two hours, twenty-two minutes, and ten seconds of shutout hockey. Aside from that goal, Varlamov was perfect tonight. The Devils looked much better in this period of play and made the game extremely close and interesting.
Isles Pull Away in Third
Eberle manages to net his second goal of the night on the powerplay. The puck bounced perfectly off the boards and landed right on Eberle’s stick. Without hesitation, Eberle fired it home for his first multi-goal game of the season. The Islanders managed to get another powerplay shortly after Eberle’s goal. From the point, Nick Leddy fired a shot which Brock Nelson tipped in extending the Isles lead. This was a relieving moment for many Islanders personnel and fans because they managed to score two powerplay goals within minutes of each other. The powerplay looked much more formidable in today’s game at points.
The Islanders’ victory allowed for them to jump ahead of the Devils and Capitals in the East Division standings. The Devils dropped down to fourth in the East. Can the Islanders win back-to-back against the Devils or will the rebuilding Devils upset Long Island’s team? The Islanders and Devils will play again this Sunday and expect another exciting game between the tristate competitors.