Led by their top three scorers, and coupled with a strong performance in goal, the New York Islanders skated to a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
John Tavares (one goal and one assist), Frans Nielsen (two assists) and Kyle Okposo (one goal) hit the scoresheet, while Kevin Poulin made 32 saves en route to his second win of the season and the first star of the game.
“I thought it was a total team effort,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “Your best players have to be your best players. I thought the top line was good tonight.”
As a team, the Islanders dictated the pace Tuesday. The Isles cycled the puck in the Predators zone for extended periods, shot often on rookie goalie Marek Mazanec and drew penalties with hard work. Defensively, the Islanders boxed out a frustrated Predators squad and kept their scoring chances and rebounds to a minimum, despite giving up 33 shots.
“We kept them to the outside with a lot of perimeter shots,” Andrew MacDonald, who played a game-high 29:24, said. “Towards the end they were pressing pretty hard, but we did a good job of keeping them to the outside and making good puck decisions.”
Poulin looked calm and collected in the crease and took a shutout into the final six minutes. Tuesday marked the first time this season Poulin started back-to-back games and the Montreal, Que., native skated off the ice to the Coliseum crowd chanting his name.
“Right now I’m playing with confidence,” Poulin said. “I’ve been playing a lot lately the past week and I feel more comfortable out there. I am seeing the puck pretty well.”
The Islanders power play went 1-for-5 and converted for the third time in two games. Tavares opened the scoring with the man advantage at 15:30 of the first after he was left wide open in front of Mazanec. Tavares was 10 feet away from the nearest defenseman and made no mistake, stepping in and putting a wrister to Mazanec’s blocker side. The young Czech goalie was making his first NHL start.
Just under two minutes later, the Islanders struck again, as Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored his second goal in as many games on a bad-angle shot from below the circle that found its way through Mazanec.
The Islanders continued to press in the second period, extending their lead to three goals after Okposo scored his sixth of the season at 7:07. The Isles third-leading scorer was the beneficiary of a sleek Tavares pass, as the captain skated into the slot and faked a wrist shot before flipping a backhand pass to Okposo for the one-timer.
Patric Hornqvist scored the lone goal for the Predators at 14:30 of the third.
The Islanders look to extend their home winning streak to three games when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Notes: Cal Clutterbuck returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury… Tavares now has five points (1g/4a) in his last three games… Nielsen has four points (1g/3a) in his last three games… Brock Nelson skated on the top line with Tavares and Okposo for the second straight game and recorded an assist.
29 Brock Nelson – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
40 Michael Grabner – 16 Peter Regin – 13 Colin McDonald
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
47 Andrew MacDonald – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 46 Matt Donovan
55 Aaron Ness – 7 Matt Carkner
60 Kevin Poulin
20 Evgeni Nabokov
33 Colin Wilson – 13 Nick Spalding – 25 Viktor Stalberg
26 Matt Hendricks – 7 Matt Cullen – 41 Taylor Beck
24 Eric Nystrom – 11 David Legwand – 27 Patric Hornqvist
16 Rich Clune – 28 Paul Gaustad – 15 Craig Smith
3 Seth Jones – 6 Shea Weber
59 Roman Josi – 8 Kevin Klein
64 Victor Bartley – 4 Ryan Ellis
39 Marek Mazanec
30 Carter Hutton
1 - 0 NYI
2 - 0 NYI
3 - 0 NYI