The Islanders got goals by five different players while John Tavares and Casey Cizikas each added two assists as they beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 at Barclays Center Monday night. The win ended the Isles three-game losing streak and allowed the team to head into the break on a positive note.
“It was good to get this win right before the holidays,” forward Matt Martin said. “We kind of feel good about ourselves before we start the second half.”
The Ducks broke out to an early 1-0 lead on a goal by former Rangers forward Carl Hagelin 6:52 into the game.
The Islanders were playing well, but the momentum started to turn when Matt Martin dropped the gloves with Anaheim’s Josh Manson midway through the first period. Martin was sticking up for teammate Nick Leddy when he challenged Manson and easily won the fight. The crowd and the Islanders bench seemed more energized after that.
“Marty [Martin] is probably one of the best teammates you can have,” said defenseman Travis Hamonic. “He’s always one of the first guys if not the first guy to stick up for a teammate. Marty goes in and fights a tough guy and does a great job. You can say that had a huge impact on the game.”
Linemate Cal Clutterbuck tied the game less than three minutes after Martin’s bout with a tricky rising shot that beat Ducks starter Frederick Andersen at 14:54.
Then the Islanders struck for two goals in the final minute of the period to put themselves in a commanding position and swing the game permanently in their favor. First defenseman Travis Hamonic potted his second goal of the year on a shot from the point with exactly 1:00 remaining in the first period. Then, Brock Nelson found himself open 43 seconds later and beat Andersen again, giving the Isles a 3-1 lead as the teams headed to the dressing room for the first intermission.
Tavares assisted on both of the late first-period goals which ended a 12-game slump for the captain without an assist. Certainly, the Islanders captain was relieved to end this rare drought.
“I’m just trying to work hard, you’re trying to produce,” Tavares explained. “Obviously I put pressure on myself to contribute. I had some good games and some great opportunities and had some games where I know I can be a lot better. I’m just trying to work through it and it’s nice to get rewarded.”
The Ducks switched goalies in the second period, inserting John Gibson into the game and Gibson at least kept his team in the game in the middle stanza. The Ducks pulled to within a goal on Manson’s second tally of the season at 7:32 but an aggressive forecheck by Anders Lee caused Hampus Lindholm to turn the puck over and Josh Bailey scored his seventh goal of the year just 2:03 after Manson’s goal to make it 4-2 Islanders and restore the two-goal margin for the home team.
Jaroslav Halak made 10 of his 27 saves in the third period to keep the Islanders safely ahead until Martin added an empty net goal with 2:33 left on the clock to ice the victory.
Overall, head coach Jack Capuano was pleased with his team’s play. “Tonight we went to the net, we shot pucks, we got some breaks,” Capuano said. “We did some of those things the last few games, too and we lost. It was good to see the guys get rewarded.”
The Islanders head into the holiday break on a winning note. They return to action Sunday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Barclays Center at 6 pm.
John Tavares dropped the gloves with Ryan Getzlaf in a rare altercation for both players. They were both assessed roughing minors midway through the second period.
“It was just [the] heat of the moment,” Tavares said after the game. “I was playing the game hard, trying to fight for ice…I was just getting slashed and I had enough.”
The Islanders did not allow the Ducks to score on their only power play of the game and have now successfully killed off 30 consecutive power plays dating back over the last dozen games.