The New York Islanders “kid line” drove the bus Friday night, motoring the Isles to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
Brock Nelson and Anders Lee each had a goal and an assist, while Ryan Strome was plus-two, as the Islanders extended their winning streak to three games. Lee scored the eventual winner 10:41 into the second period and in the process, the Islanders improved to 5-0 in their last five trips to Detroit and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games against the Red Wings.
“Our whole line is playing well,” Lee said. “We’re clicking and just trying to keep our feet moving and keep the puck going and play a fast game. Things have been going well.”
Both teams entered the game with 42 points, but the Islanders held the high-flying Red Wings to just 18 shots, while peppering Jimmy Howard (nine shots) and Petr Mrazek (23 shots) with 32 total shots.
“We talk about defense-first mentality and I thought we did a good job,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We kept them to the outside when they had some extended-zone time. To hold a team like that we’re doing something right.”
The Red Wings did break the ice 8:49 into the first period on Henrik Zetterberg’s sixth of the season. Zetterberg’s goal was set up by Darren Helm, who spun off the boards down low and fed the Red Wings captain in the high slot for a one-timer.
The Islanders answered at the 16-minute mark, as Nelson scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season. Nelson took advantage of a Howard fumble, poking the puck through the goaltender’s legs after he mishandled a Lubomir Visnovsky wrist shot.
Howard left the game during the first intermission with a lower-body injury and did not return. Mrazek made 22 saves in relief – including a highlight-reel save on Nelson early in the second – and was named the second star of the game.
The “kid line” was able to strike again in the second period, as Nelson won the puck off Riley Sheahan, causing a goalmouth scramble that Lee jammed home.
“Brock made a great play stripping the puck from their guy. He did everything but get the last six inches,” Lee said. “I was able to get a bit of a scrap goal there, but I’m happy to take it.”
The Islanders held the fort in the third period, limiting the Red Wings to five shots. The penalty kill was also perfect, killing both penalties. In net, Halak made 17 saves for his third straight win and 17th of the season.
“We got the lead and we were able to just eat clock there in the second and third,” Nelson said. “We did a good job of keeping them in their own zone. I thought we did a really good job defensively.”
The Islanders have a tight turnaround, as they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.