The New York Islanders played a complete game and downed the visiting Detroit Red Wings 5-1 at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday. Matt Moulson scored twice while Moulson, John Tavares and Mark Streit each had three points to lead the Islanders attack. Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves to earn the win for the Isles who seem to have the Wings number. The Isles are now 5-0-1 against Detroit since the lockout ended.
“I thought our defense did a good job of containing them to the outside,” Isles Coach Jack Capuano said. “Tonight, we executed the game plan in a lot of areas and that was the key for us, our execution…We went to the net, we played sound defensive hockey and sound positional hockey…We earned that win tonight.”
The Red Wings were playing their third game in four nights and the Islanders tried to take advantage of that early on. They outshot the visitors 17-8 in the first period and after Nabokov made some key saves early, the Islanders controlled the tempo of the game.
“We know we have to raise our game and play at our best to compete with them,” Tavares explained. “We played them hard, we knew they were playing their third in four nights and tried to jump on them and hopefully wear them out.”
The Isles strong early play finally paid off when Matt Moulson scored a power play goal with just under a minute remaining in the opening stanza. Moulson made a centering pass towards the stick of Tavares in front and initially, JT was credited with the goal but replays showed he never touched it and Moulson had scored his 19th goal of the season.
In the second period, the Islanders managed only four shots on goal but scored on three of them to take a commanding lead. First, Tavares scored after taking a drop pass from Kyle Okposo and lifting a wrist shot a wrist shot over the shoulder of Red Wings goalie Ty Conklin to make it 2-0 Islanders at 7:31.
Three and a half minutes later, it was Okposo’s turn to score. Tavares made the pass to set up his linemate this time and Okposo lifted a wrist shot from between the circles that again beat Conklin high and made it 3-0 Isles. The Islanders continued to test Conklin with high shots throughout the game and it paid off.
Michael Grabner tallied on a breakaway with just 1:28 left in the second period to increase the Isles lead to 4-0. Matt Martin made the pass that sprung the speedy Isles winger for his 11th goal of the season. The goal ended an eight-game scoring drought for Grabner.
Justin Abdelkader broke Nabokov’s shutout bid 2:36 into the third period when he deflected a soft shot by Jakub Kindl. Moulson closed out the scoring with his second goal of the game and his 20th of the year with 6:03 remaining in the contest.
Nabokov made his ninth consecutive start for the Isles and credited his teammates with helping to make his job easier. “It wasn’t just the defensemen but the forwards, too,” he said. “They came back into the defensive zone and stayed in the lanes and battled. You have to battle to win possession of the puck and we did a good job today.”
The Isles fans at the Coliseum chanted, “You can’t beat us” to the Wings in the game’s final minutes to celebrate the win.
The Islanders continue their home stand Thursday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers at the Coliseum. Detroit returns home after a four-game road trip when they host the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night at the Joe Louis Arena.
Gordie Howe was in attendance at the game.
The Islanders scratched Marty Reasoner, Dylan Reese and Al Montoya while Detroit sat out Jan Mursak and Pavel Datsyuk.
John Tavares was hit in the eye with an errant puck early in the second period but returned shortly after going to the locker room for repairs.