The New York Islanders continued their post-lockout dominance of the Detroit Red Wings, winning 5-1 Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
The Isles improved to 5-0-1 against the NHL’s big, red machine in their last six meetings, behind a fast start, good goaltending and contributions from the top scorers.
“We know we have to raise our game and play at our best to compete with them,” John Tavares said. “We played them hard, we knew they were playing their third in four nights and tried to jump on them and hopefully wear them out.”
Matt Moulson opened the scoring with a power play goal at the end of the first period, banking a cross-crease pass off Drew Miller and past Ty Conklin. The Islanders dictated the play from the onset, outshooting the Red Wings 17-8 in the first period.
In the second period, the Isles did not need to rely on their hot power play, with even strength goals from Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner. The top line was exactly that on Tuesday as Moulson (2g/1a), Tavares (1g/2a), and Okposo (1g/1a) combined for eight points. Captain Mark Streit had his first multi-point game since Dec. 22, tallying three assists.
“Kyle’s a big, strong forward and Johnny’s been playing some great hockey, probably some of the best I’ve seen him play,” Moulson said of his line’s success. “Those two guys are going and I just pick up some of the garbage I guess.”
The Red Wings closed the Isles shots advantage in the second and third periods, but Evgeni Nabokov preserved the lead, turning in a solid performance. The score was lopsided, but the Red Wings had chances including breakaways and a two-on-one. Nabokov was equal to the task as he stopped 23 of 24 on the evening.
“It’s never easy to play Detroit, those guys are champions, they know how to win, they know how to prepare themselves,” Nabokov said. “Even if they are tired, they bring something to the table.”
Nabokov was two-thirds of the way to a shutout before Justin Abdelkader got the Wings on the board 2:36 into the third period.
The Isles continued to play disciplined hockey, limiting themselves to three minor penalties. They haven’t sent more than three men to the box through four games in 2012.
The win marks the third-straight home victory for the Isles. With Philadelphia coming to town on Thursday night, they look to make it four home wins in a row. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Tonight’s attendance was 12,864.