The New York Islanders had plenty to celebrate during their Columbus Day matinee at the Barclays Center against the Winnipeg Jets. The Isles won for the first time in their new home and their long dormant power play showed signs of life. The team also protected a lead, something that was a problem for the team in recent seasons. Captain John Tavares also had a big game, scoring one goal and three points to lead the offense in a 4-2 victory.
The power play was becoming an issue for the Islanders. They had not scored at all with the extra attacker in either of their first two games this season and were also blanked in the seven-game series against the Washington Capitals last spring. Tonight, the Islanders scored twice the the man advantage in six tries and showed good puck movement even when they didn’t score.
“It was something we talked about,” forward Josh Bailey said after the game. “We didn’t want to get frustrated. We know we’ve got what it takes to get the job done here and we talked about staying patient and ultimately doing the job when you get out there.”
Ryan Strome scored the first goal of the game in the closing seconds of the first period on the power play while John Tavares’ tally midway through the second period gave the Islanders a commanding 3-0 lead.
Veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky picked up an assist and now had two points in the team’s first three games. He has been a good addition to the power play, adding experience, savvy and the threat of a hard shot from the point.
The penalty kill had also been shaky in the two games against the Blackhawks, but tonight, the Isles killed two of three shorthanded chances and got timely saves from goalie Thomas Greiss who made his second start in the first three games and played well. Greiss made 22 saves to earn his first win in an Islanders jersey.
“He’s made a good impression on everyone,” Strome said. “If he can play like that every night, then we really have a good chance.”
The Islanders also held on after taking a 3-1 lead into the third period. The Jets scored once in the third period to close to within 3-2, but the Islanders closed the door and added an empty-net goal by Josh Bailey to close out the win.
John Tavares did his part as well, scoring a goal and two assists to key the victory. The Islanders obviously need consistent production from their captain and best player if they hope to contend this season. He had just one point in the first two games, but today, he led the team to an important victory.
“I think everybody just felt better today,” Tavares said. “It’s just getting into rhythm and getting into synch. Friday, we all thought we deserved better, it was disappointing. Saturday was really disappointing because we didn’t play well at all. We responded well today. We came out with kind of like a do-or-die mentality.”
The win seemed to give the Islanders a boost of confidence as they begin a busy week of home games. Overall, the Islanders were happy with the results today. “If you watched us play tonight, the focus, the preparation from the drop of the puck, we dominated the hockey game,” Capuano added.
The club returns to action Thursday night when they host the Nashville Predators at the Barclays Center.