Five players had multi-point games while Thomas Greiss made 33 saves to lead the New York Islanders to a solid 5-1 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs at the Barclays Center Sunday night. Shane Prince and Brock Nelson had a goal and an assist each while Nick Leddy, Dennis Seidenberg and Nikolay Kulemin each added a pair of assists.
The Islanders jumped out to a fast start on a Toronto team that had played the previous night in Montreal. Travis Hamonic’s blast from the point just 61 seconds into the game gave the home team the early lead.
Casey Cizikas made it 2-0 Isles when he put home the rebound of a Cal Clutterbuck shot past Toronto goalie Jhonas Enroth at 7:22.
The fourth line scored both goals in the first period and had considerable jump with the return of Nikolay Kulemin to the lineup. The veteran forward had missed the past two games due to injury and the Cizikas line clearly missed his presence.
“Getting him back, they work,” Isles coach Jack Capuano said when asked about what Kulemin’s return meant for the line. “Tonight they played against their top six forwards and they did a really good job. They played a ton and they nullified.”
The Islanders controlled the tempo for the first half of the opening period and outshot the Leafs 13-10 over the first 20 minutes.
The Leafs picked up their play in the second period, outshooting the Islanders 17-12, but Greiss stood tall and kept Toronto off the scoreboard.
“Greiss was excellent,” Capuano said after the game. “Five stars.”
The Maple Leafs cut the Isles lead in half just 50 seconds into the third period on a power-play goal by Jake Gardiner who blasted one past Greiss from the left point with lots of traffic in front of the net.
To their credit, the Islanders responded. First Prince came through with a goal at 5:08 followed by Brock Nelson’s tally from the slot at 7:47 to make the score 4-1 Islanders to all but put the game out of reach. Josh Bailey added an insurance goal to close out the scoring with less than a minute left in the third period.
The game was a homecoming for forward Matt Martin who signed with Toronto as a free agent this summer after spending more than six seasons with the Islanders.
“There are a lot of memories and people I consider family here now,” Martin said after the game. “It was a special night.” Martin finished with four hits in 9:40 of ice time for the Leafs and received a warm ovation from the fans after a brief video tribute during the first period.
Overall, the win was a solid one for the Islanders who outplayed the Leafs for most of the contest and responded quickly when Toronto tried to get back into the game in the third period.
“Just a win is good for sure,” Isles captain John Tavares said after the game. “Some of the other games we may have played a little better but some nights you just find ways to win. I thought we had a lot of chances but we probably also gave up too much.”
The Islanders return to action Tuesday night when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of their second round playoff series last spring.
The Islanders scratched Alan Quine, Mathew Barzal and J.F. Berube. Jaroslav Halak served as Greiss’ backup.
Official attendance was 12,057.
Defenseman Travis Hamonic finished the game with five blocked shots while Johnny Boychuk added four for the Islanders.
The duo of Tyler Bozak and James Van Riemsdyk were each a minus-four for Toronto.
Calvin de Haan and Dennis Seidenberg were each a plus-three for the Islanders.