Anders Lee scored a goal in his NHL debut to spark the Islanders to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders dictated much of the play, out-shooting Winnipeg 39-25, and goaltender Kevin Poulin turned aside 23-of-25 shots to earn his first win of the season. The Islanders’ second-straight victory gave the team sole possession of eighth place with 39 points (18-16-3).
“We got pucks to the net and that was the big thing,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “After two periods we had close to 30 shots and that's the one thing that we wanted to try to accomplish tonight. At the other end, we talked before the game about how their D creates a lot of offense for them, and I thought we took away their second wave. Our goalie made some big saves when we needed him to.”
Lee scored the game’s first goal on his first career shot at the 16:13 mark of the opening frame. After taking a handoff from Matt Martin in the neutral zone, the Notre Dame product skated down the left wing boards and wristed one off the bar and in behind goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
“I was just trying to get the puck to the net, especially in the first period,” Lee said. “I was so surprised. I just threw it on net, it happened to go in, and the boys came to congratulate me. It was pretty awesome. My head was spinning at that point. If it wasn’t enough to be playing in my first game, that was really exciting.”
Minutes later, Paul Postma evened things up with his second goal of the season. He fought through a defender to pick up a loose rebound in front of Poulin and finished top shelf.
Postma’s second of the game came six minutes into the middle period and gave the Jets a 2-1 lead. Chris Thorburn dished the puck from the left circle to the rookie defenseman, who was stationed just outside the crease for a tap-in.
Colin McDonald turned the momentum back in the home team’s favor midway through the period, scoring on a deflection to make the game 2-2. Mark Streit shot the puck toward the goal, and Michael Grabner angled it from the slot down low to McDonald. He banked it off the inside of Pavelec’s pads and across the line.
Following a hooking penalty to the Jets’ Evander Kane late in the second, Frans Nielsen gave the Islanders the lead for good. Streit blasted a point shot through traffic that bounced off Josh Bailey to the right circle. Nielsen wasted no time in cranking a shot high over a laid out Pavelec at 19:32.
The game remained 3-2 until late in the third, when John Tavares and Matt Moulson attacked the zone on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Tavares drew Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom to the puck and passed to his left for Moulson, who found the back of the net before Pavelec could shift over at the 18:00 mark.
“When we scored that fourth goal, it was great,” Poulin said. “The guys in front of me played great when it was a 3-2 game and there was no doubt that we were going to win it.”
In the final minute, Tavares scored into an empty net to make it 5-2, icing the contest. The win bumps the Islanders into the top-8 of the conference, tied with seventh place New Jersey with 39 points.
“There’s a long way to go,” Nielsen said. “There are still a lot of points up for grabs. You have to play for it. It’s fun where we are in the standings right now, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
That work continues Thursday, April 4, as the Islanders play a road contest at the Washington Capitals at 7:00 p.m.
Notes: Brad Boyes (two assists), Matt Moulson (one goal, one assist), Mark Streit (two assists) and John Tavares (one goal, one assist) each recorded multi-point games … The Islanders power play went 1-for-1 while Winnipeg was 0-for-1 on the man advantage … Andrew MacDonald led the team with 24:37 of ice time … Moulson led the team with eight shots on goal … Travis Hamonic led the team with five blocked shots … The Islanders won the faceoff battle 26-22, led by John Tavares (11-of-17, 65%) … Matt Martin had a game-high seven hits, followed closely by Colin McDonald’s six.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
16 Andrew Ladd - 18 Bryan Little - 26 Blake Wheeler
9 Evander Kane - 12 Olli Jokinen - 20 Antti Miettinen
27 Eric Tangradi - 80 Nik Antropov - 13 Kyle Wellwood
28 Patrice Cormier - 8 Alex Burmistrov - 22 Chris Thorburn
39 Toby Enstrom - 33 Dustin Byfuglien
6 Ron Hainsey - 44 Zach Bogosian
5 Mark Stuart - 4 Paul Postma
31 Ondrej Pavelec
35 Al Montoya