The Islanders fought through adversity to earn their first road win of the 2011-12 season on Saturday, defeating the New Jersey Devils 3-2, at the Prudential Center. But it wasn’t without its share of scares.
“I think we played pretty well,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “It was a situation where both goaltenders stole the show. I think both teams had their chances. It was one of those games where the chances were two on us after the first and then the game just exploded in the second and third. There were a lot of odd man rushes and a lot of breakdowns. We were fortunate that we won the game.”
After the Devils pulled Martin Brodeur with 1:32 left on the clock, the Devils found a way to apply the pressure. After a brief defensive breakdown with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, Zach Parise battled Al Montoya for the puck, and the puck crossed the goal line. On the ice, it was ruled a goal, but following video review by the officials, it was determined the puck was kicked in the goal and the call was overturned.
“We went over the play,” Capuano said. “We have to keep our net front D on that, we saw the puck there and 8 (Dainius Zubrus) shot through and we left net front. As soon as I saw that, I knew 9 (Parise) was going to be in front. We knew that and we talked about it.”
“I thought I had the puck in my glove,” said Montoya, who made 24 saves in the winning effort. “Zach (Parise) is a heck of a player. He goes at the net really hard. I took a couple whacks at it, like I said, we got the bounce tonight.”
The Islanders scored first and took two one-goal leads, but the Devils evened the score twice before Michael Grabner scored the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season after he challenged Ilya Kovalchuk high on the blue line and poke checked the puck away in low. The goal came just 17 seconds after Josh Bailey went to the box for hooking at 5:34.
“It was best that I didn’t have much time to think about it,” Grabner said. “I got the puck pretty low so I just shot it, but I still have to find a way to score on at least one of the other chances I had.”
The Devils tied it up at 3:59 of the third. As the Isles struggled to contain Kovalchuk, Milan Jurcina chased down Adam Henrique on the breakaway, but he couldn’t reach the scorching hot rookie before Henrique’s shot beat Montoya.
With less than a minute remaining in the second period, Grabner skated down the ice on just one of his many breakaways during Saturday afternoon’s game. He fired off a shot for which he was denied by Brodeur. Skating behind him through the slot, Okposo raced in for the rebound and a flailing Brodeur denied him as well, making the save of the game for the Devils.
“They had one that was a big save and then all of a sudden Grabs (Grabner) has a couple breakaways, Kyle (Okposo) has one, Johnny (Tavares) has one and it’s still a one-goal game,” Capuano said. “You’re thinking a little bit to yourself, it would have been a nice cushion for us, but our guys battled.”
Bailey scored his second of the season with a sniper through the slot at 11:59 of the second. The play was under review as David Ullstrom leaned on the net and it came up from its hinges. However, the call on the ice stood and the Islanders took the lead for the second time, 2-1.
“Roli made a heck of a play,” Bailey said. “He showed a lot of patience, just waited and waited and waited and just gave me enough time to float in there. I tried to get (my shot) off as quick as I could. I didn’t even see it go in. I just saw that the ref pointed.”
Without any Isles defensive coverage, Adam Larsson walked through the slot for a snap shot that beat Montoya to level the score at one (4:20 of the second).
At 11:28 of the first period, Matt Moulson scored his seventh goal of the season off a nice feed from PA Parenteau through the slot to lift the Islanders ahead 1-0.
“It was a great play by PA,” Moulson said. “He chased down the puck, beat their guy to the puck and I saw that I wasn’t going to get the puck going to the net so I came in behind him and he made a nice drop.”
With the last ditch effort from the Devils that could have leveled the score with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, the Islanders were glad to finally come away with their first road win of the season.
“That’s something we put an emphasis on, don’t get down when things happen and just keep coming with perseverance,” Moulson said. “That’s what makes winning teams. They keep coming no matter what happens.”
1 - 0 NYI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI