The Islanders were unable to come away with a victory in their only pre-season visit to the Nassau Coliseum, falling to the New Jersey Devils, 4-2.
Olivier Magnan-Grenier tallied the winning goal for New Jersey midway through the third period - his first goal of the preseason. The Devils forward just happened to be in the right place at the right time, capitalizing on a rebound from a Cory Murphy slap shot and put it past Islanders goaltender Martin Biron, to give the Devils the 3-2 lead, and ultimately the game.
Both teams played to a scoreless first period, but not without a little excitement for the fans.
The fists started to fly 6:19 into the first period when Mark Streit and Magnan-Grenier dropped the gloves around center ice. Magnan-Grenier was coming to the aid of teammate Andrew Peters after Streit crunched Peters with an open-ice hit. The fight, however, was short-lived as both men wrestled each other to the ice.
Just over a minute later, Matt Martin and Rob Davison squared off deep in the Devils zone and exchanged fisticuffs. Martin jumped in to protect teammate Micheal Haley, who was shoving with New Jersey defenseman Jay Leach. Both Martin and Davison received five minutes each, while Haley and Leach both earned coincidental roughing minors.
Vladimir Zharkov scored his first goal of the pre-season at the 4:11 mark of the first period to give the Devils a one-goal lead. With Jeremy Reich in the penalty box for hooking, Islanders goaltender Martin Biron couldn’t hold a Brian Rolston slapshot between his pads as the puck start to slide behind him past the goal line.
Zharkov found himself undefended right by the post, and pushed the puck over the goal line to put the Devils up 1-0 for what turned to be a short-lived lead.
“We’ve got to do a better job in front of (Biron) in clearing people out and clearing the rebounds,” Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon said. “That goes hand-in-hand.”
Richard Park quickly tied the game up just two minutes later with his first goal of the preseason. Park snuck behind the New Jersey net and quickly wrapped the puck around and through New Jersey goaltender Yann Danis’ legs to tie up the game at one goal at the 6:21 mark of the second period. Greg Mauldin received the lone assist on the play.
Jamie Langenbrunner helped New Jersey retake their one-goal lead on the powerplay with his first of the pre-season at the 14:35 mark of the second period. With Brendan Witt in the penalty box serving an interference minor, Nicholas Bergfors drove down the slot and threaded a pass in between the Islanders defense to a streaking Langenbrunner. The New Jersey forward got just enough to deflect the puck past a sliding Biron to give the Devils the lead.
Despite the loss, Gordon felt Biron helped keep the Islanders in the game.
“He certainly wasn’t the reason why we lost,” Gordon said. “I think he’d probably like do a little more with the rebounds with the first and third goals; you can’t fault him for the second goal.”
The Islanders would find a way to even things up in the third period.
With Magnan-Grenier in the penalty box for tripping, the Islanders took to their first man-advantage of the game . John Tavares, making his Coliseum debut, handled the puck near the half-boards and dished the puck to Moulson who was waiting by the goal line.
Moulson then fired the puck on Danis, and would not stop until he made sure the puck crossed the goal line at 2:28 of the third period to even things up at 2-2.
“Me and Matt know each other real well,” Tavares said of his linemate after the game. “He’s a great player and he’s got a real good nose for the net. Right now it’s not a bad idea to feed him the puck. We’re just trying to play give-and-go’s, communicate out there and find good chemistry.”
It’s clear that Moulson and Tavares have established a bit of chemistry during the pre-season.
“It’s always encouraging when you can play well with a player like that,” Moulson said following the game. “He’s obviously a tremendous player and you just got to give him his room and get open because he’s going to find you.”
Nicklas Bergfors added an empty net goal with just over a minute remaining late in the third period to give the Devils the 4-2 advantage.
3 Stars of the Game:
1. Brian Rolson, NJD: Two assists
2. Olivier Magnan-Grenier, NJD: Game-winning goal
3. Matt Moulson, NYI: Scored his fourth goal of the preseason
Slapshots: New Jersey outshot the Islanders, 30-22…Radek Martinek led all Islanders with 26:18 of ice time…Matt Moulson led all Islanders with 7 shots on goal…John Tavares received a rousing round of applause from the crowd the moment he stepped out onto the ice for his first shift. Streit earned his first career fighting major. Streit, Richard Park, and Brendan Witt all wore the “A”s, serving as alternate captains.
77 Trevor Smith – 91 John Tavares – 26 Matt Moulson
15 Jeff Tambellini - 27 Greg Moore – 57 Blake Comeau
17 Jeremy Reich – 10 Richard Park – 62 Greg Mauldin
46 Matt Martin – 50 Tomas Marcinko – 59 Micheal Haley
24 Radek Martinek – 32 Brendan Witt
2 Mark Streit – 3 Calvin deHaan
56 Dustin Kohn – 42 Brett Westgarth
43 Martin Biron
33 Scott Munroe
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
15 Jamie Langenbrunner – 19 Travis Zajac – 48 Vladimir Zharkov
14 Brandan Shanahan – 8 Dainus Zubrus – 12 Brian Rolston
18 Niclas Bergfors – Tim Sestito – 63 Matt Halischuk
36 Olivier Magnan-Grenier – 10 Rod Pelley – 25 Andrew Peters
29 Johnny Oduya – 7 Paul Martin
28 Cory Murphy – 5 Colin White
34 Rob Davison – 2 Jay Leach
35 Yann Danis
31 Jeff Frazee
1 - 0 NJD
Backhand shot -