A rambunctious crowd of 14,689 came out to witness the first NHL game in Brooklyn, but the New York Islanders were unable to get the result they wanted in their first game at Barclays Center, falling 3-0 to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday in preseason action.
Evgeni Nabokov played the full 60 minutes between the pipes for the Islanders, making 22 saves on 25 shots. New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider blanked the Islanders on 26 shots.
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano pointed to special teams as an area to improve upon before the team’s first regular season game on Oct. 4.
“We gave up two power play goals,” Capuano said. “Next week will be a real big week for us as far as getting a little more stride in that area. As we move forward, we're still in evaluation mode; there's still jobs to be won.”
Midway through the first period, the Devils took the lead on Jacob Josefson’s first goal of the preseason. Two seconds after an Islanders minor penalty came to an end, Nabokov stopped Damien Brunner’s shot, but Josefson cleaned up the rebound at 10:14. Patrik Elias doubled the Devils lead five minutes into the middle period. Brunner and Josefson set up the 18-year veteran, who ripped a one-timer from the left circle over Nabokov’s shoulder.
Early in the third period, Steve Barnier tacked on a third goal for New Jersey. Travis Zajac and Elias were credited with the assists.
The Islanders were unable to break through Schneider on a pair of third-period power plays. Matt Moulson had a great chance in the final stanza from in front of the New Jersey goaltender, but pushed the puck just wide of the post.
In the final two minutes of play, with a three-goal spread between the teams, Justin Johnson dropped the gloves with Cam Janssen, and Travis Hamonic squared off with Ryan Carter. Despite Saturday’s contest not counting toward the official season standings, Hamonic said the value of the preseason games should not be understated.
“Every time you lace them up it matters,” Hamonic said. “If you're playing these games like they don't matter, then you're playing the wrong sport. We didn’t do a lot of really good things out there today. You can control how hard you work and at times we got outworked a bit. The nice thing about it is that we can rebound as a group. We're going to have some time to practice here and get ready for games next week and head into the season.”
With the preseason schedule at its midway point, the Islanders are back in action Sunday, Sept. 22, when they head south to Nashville to take on the Predators.