John Tavares scored twice and added an assist while Ryan Strome and Anthony Beauvillier each had two assists as the Islanders defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-3 at the Barclays Center Sunday night. Thomas Greiss made 26 saves to earn his first victory of the season. The win evened the Islanders record for the season at 3-3-0.
“We’ve had a lot of chances the last few games and it’s good to see a few go in,” Tavares said after the game. “We got some big goals from all parts of our lineup and that goes a long way. It’s good to get a couple wins in a row here.”
After a very even first period in which each team managed 11 shots on goal, the pace quickened in the middle stanza. Zach Parise got Minnesota on the board at the 1:15 mark. The Islanders were caught on a bad change and Parise beat Greiss off the resulting 3-on-2 break to make it 1-0 Wild. It was Parise’s first goal of the season and the 300th of his NHL career. Parise’s father, J.P. Parise, scored one of the biggest goals in Islanders history back in the 1975 playoffs against the Rangers and played for the team from 1975-78.
The Islanders struck back quickly with a pair of goals just 34 seconds apart. First a pretty cross-ice pass by Josh Bailey set up Tavares for a one-timer that beat Darcy Kuemper and evened the score at 4:23. Then defenseman Calvin de Haan scored his first goal of the season on a blast from the point and the Isles took the lead for good.
Johnny Boychuk made it 3-1 on his shot from the point at 7:31. Ryan Strome set a screen on the play after winning the faceoff to create the scoring chance.
“It’s huge. When the d-men contribute, it helps the team win,” Boychuk said. “Getting pucks back to the defensemen helped get pucks through and on net. We had three goals by defensemen and a lot of it came from high shots.”
The Wild got back into the game when Parise scored again on a play that was only confirmed as a goal after video review. Parise stuffed the puck past Greiss off a scramble in the crease. The replay clearly showed the puck briefly went over the goal line before Greiss kicked it out with his skate.
The Wild had several good chances to even the score late in the second period but Greiss came up with some timely saves and the Isles entered the third period clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Although they were protecting a one-goal lead, the Islanders did not ease up in the final 20 minutes and managed to add to their lead at the 6:29 mark. Alan Quine scored his first goal of the season on a wicked wrist shot set up by Beauvillier who broke up a pass attempt in the Isles zone and set up a scoring chance after the turnover.
“I don’t want to get too frustrated,”Quine said about potting his first of the season. “I kind of was just hoping to get a few shots on net and if one goes in that’s just great. Beau [Beauvillier] made a good play to me and I was able to pop it in.”
Thomas Hickey became the third Isles defenseman to score 2:06 later when he scored off a pretty dangle by Tavares just inside the blueline. That made it 5-2 Islanders at the 8:35 mark of the third period.
Ex-Islander Nino Niederreiter scored for the Wild with 2:48 left in regulation time but an empty-net tally by Tavares provided the final 6-3 margin for the Islanders and iced the victory.
The Islanders return to action Wednesday night when they host the Montreal Canadiens at the Barclays Center. Game time is 7 PM.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched Mathew Barzal and Jaroslav Halak. J.F. Berube served as the backup goalie.
Parise finished the game with 10 shots on goal for the Wild.
Official attendance was 11,583.
The Islanders outhit the Wild 31-17. Cal Clutterbuck led the Islanders with six hits while Johnny Boychuk added five.
Niederreiter now has seven points in seven games against the Islanders since being traded to Minnesota for Clutterbuck.