John Tavares scored twice while Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan had strong games as the New York Islanders cruised to a 6-4 win over the Nashville Predators at the Nassau Coliseum Friday night. Both Travis Hamonic and Matt Moulson had three assists for the Islanders.
The Isles led 6-1 before three late goals by Nashville made the score a bit closer. The win was a much-needed offensive shot in the arm for the Isles who had failed to score a goal in their last two preseason games. Tonight, the Isles drove to the net and established position in the “dirty areas” that they need to produce points.
Both of Tavares’ goals came in the first period that saw the Isles control the tempo. Throughout the the first 50 minutes of the game, the home team looked to be a step ahead of the Predators. After Tavares’ two tallies, Lubomir Visnovsky made it 3-1 with a power play goal at the 16:00 mark of the first period.
In the second period, goals by Colin McDonald and Donovan made it 5-1 Isles. Josh Bailey scored midway through the third period to increase the Isles lead to 6-1.
“We’ve had some chances in the previous games but we brought the structure and the framework that we talk about all the time,” Isles’ coach Jack Capuano said. “There’s a certain way this team has to play and tonight we did some good things. We were in constant motion, we moved the puck quick, we had net presence.”
Perhaps the most encouraging thing was that two of the Islanders’ young prospects played strong games. On both of his assists, Brock Nelson showed patience with the puck and good vision, finding an open teammate to create a successful scoring chance. The former University of North Dakota star looks increasingly comfortable on the ice.
“It’s been nice skating with the guys and getting comfortable with them and getting used to game situations,” Nelson said. “Playing in preseason games obviously helps. The more games you get into, the easier it becomes. You become more familiar with the speed and how the game is played.”
“I thought Brock and Donovan played really well,” Capuano added after the game. “Donovan on the back end really showed showed his offensive ability. He activated a lot tonight. We moved Brock around a little bit, he had some time on the top line and they scored. I was pleased with the young guys and how they competed tonight.”
While neither Nelson nor Donovan are guaranteed spots on the opening day roster, their strong performances tonight only helped their chances of making the team.
The Islanders continue their preseason on Sunday when they play split squad road games against the Ottawa Senators.
The start of the game was delayed approximately 15 minutes after the Predators were late arriving at the Coliseum.
The President of Slovakia, Ivan Gašparovic, was in attendance. He is in town to attend meetings at the United Nations.
Official attendance was 9, 314.