Prior to tonight’s game between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, The Isles paid tribute to the healthcare workers around the country and the world who have made sacrifices to help us fight the pandemic.
The Isles welcomed 1,000 fans into the building. All of whom were either healthcare workers or families thereof. This was the first game in 369 days at Nassau Coliseum that the Islanders played in front of fans.
The beginning of the first period seemed as if the two teams were trying to just feel one another out. A lot of dump-and-chase hockey for the first couple of minutes in the period.
As time went on, the Isles seemed to seize control of the game. They were not allowing New Jersey to get many chances, and they were getting more than enough of their own.
The Islanders’ “Identity Line” came out with a ton of early pressure, and 3:12 into the game, the Isles netted the game’s first goal. Matt Martin was the goal scorer this time with assists coming from Scott Mayfield and Nick Leddy.
From that point on, the Isles dominated the rest of the period. They would get chance after chance, and they weren’t giving any up whatsoever. The Devils couldn’t even get into the Islanders’ defensive zone, let alone get any chances or shots.
That assist from Lee would be the last good thing heard from him for the night, as just a few minutes later, he was injured after being tied up by Pavel Zacha. He would go to the locker room, and that would be the end of the night for the New York captain.
Ty Smith would go to the penalty box for interference on Jordan Eberle 16:09 into the period, and the Isles would get a couple of chances after a rough first minute of the powerplay, but it wouldn’t amount to much.
The Islanders really managed to dominate the Devils in the first 20 minutes tonight. Even if they only outshot them 8-6.
The second period would begin with even more dominance in the second. Even without their captain on the bench.
The Isles sent the 4th line out to set the tone for the period, and they would do just that. They would get an early chance right away to set the tone.
The Devils came out at the start of the period playing really sloppy hockey. They really didn’t turn it around at all throughout the remainder of the period, either.
The first half of the period was a lot of domination by the boys in blue, and all of their chances finally would come to fruition. Not on a powerplay, as one may expect against New Jersey, either. They would actually go 0-for-5 on the man advantage tonight.
The Isles’ third goal would be one scored by Noah Dobson and assisted by Jean-Gabriel Pageau and long-time Devils captain Andy Greene at 14:55. The ironic part of the goal is that Dobson had “virtually nothing to do with the play that put the puck into the net,” as stated by Isles play-by-play man Brendan Burke.
The goal would be challenged by New Jersey for goalie interference, and referee Wes McCauley’s call on the ice would be confirmed, and the Isles would get a powerplay for delay of game and a 3-0 lead.
On that powerplay, Pageau almost made it 4-0 on the only solid chance, but Blackwood shut it down.
The Isles almost had a fifth goal of the night after a 2-on-0 chance, but Blackwood bailed them out once again.
After two periods, the Isles had outshot New Jersey 25-10.
The third period for the Isles was much worse than the first two. As Butch Goring put it, “The Devils are a third-period team.”
The Devils came out firing on all cylinders to start the period, and the Isles didn’t.
Cizikas drew a four-minute penalty on Ryan Murray that would amount to a whole lot of nothing except an Islanders too-many-men penalty that would end the powerplay early.
Just as Murray left the box, Cal Clutterbuck rang the post, giving the Isles the best chance they had over the course of the Murray penalty.
The Isles ended up killing the abbreviated penalty, and subsequently the remaining game clock.
As time was winding down and the game approached 4:00 left, Jack Hughes scored to make it 5-3. The assist went to Andreas Johnson.
The remainder of the game was just more dump-and-chase for New York. The Devils would pull their goalie with about 20 seconds left, but it didn’t get them anything.
The Devils outshot the Isles 10-9 in the third, but the Isles still outshot New Jersey 34-21 in the game.
New Jersey – 3
New York – 5
For New York, there was a lot of good that came out of the game. Most importantly, they got the two points to take a 2-point lead over Washington and keep pace with the Bruins, who also won tonight. They did play a sloppy third period, but a win is a win. Especially this season. Their next game is in New Jersey against the Devils on Saturday at 7:00 pm.
For the Devils, the main thing they can take away from tonight is that they have a goalie who can keep them in a game. This game could have easily been 7-0 or worse through two periods, but Blackwood kept them in it. At this point, it looks like New Jersey is looking forward to 2021-22, though. They have just 19 points through 23 games and are in 7th place in the division, and their chances are dwindling. They are 13 points out of a playoff spot and 19 points out of first place. Their next game is at home against these same Islanders on Saturday at 7:00 pm.
1st Star: Islanders defensemen – 2G, 5A
2nd Star: Matt Martin 1G, 3 shots, +1
3rd Star: Brock Nelson – 1G, 3A