NEWARK - The Islanders may not want the two-day holiday break that begins today, but they can look at the standings and see a point of pride: They’re not in last anymore.
They crawled out of the NHL’s cellar Thursday night with timely scoring and the excellent work of Dwayne Roloson, who turned aside 34 shots in a 5-1 win over the Devils, the Islanders’ most decisive victory of the season.
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“This is a good feeling,” James Wisniewski said. “We’ve struggled so much this year; even with leads, I think we’ve panicked a little. We haven’t been doing that lately.”
Even with the Devils having made a coaching change yesterday morning, bringing back Jacques Lemaire to replace John MacLean, it was the Islanders who had life and jump in a three-goal first period. The first two goals were scored by Josh Bailey, his first goals and points since Oct. 16.
The Islanders, 3-0-1 in their last four after a 1-17-3 skid, did lose Matt Moulson to a possible concussion. He was stretched out reaching for a puck in center ice when Anton Volchenkov leveled him. His head was at Volchenkov’s waist level. Moulson tried to return later in the first but could not. That left the Islanders with only 10 forwards as Jack Capuano dressed seven defensemen, but the top three lines rolled well.
“We still made the right call, because we had a couple of our D who were banged up and didn’t go too much in the third,” Capuano said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but we found a way to win.”
Bailey got a gift when Jamie Langenbrunner handed away a pass in the Devils’ zone, with Bailey tucking a backhand behind Martin Brodeur 3:09 in. On the Islanders’ only power play of the game 2:30 later, Bailey parked himself in front of Brodeur and swept home a shot from Andrew MacDonald.
The Devils got their first shot on Roloson 11 minutes into the first, but they poured it on in the second, holding a 16-3 shot advantage. Travis Zajac got the Devils on the board 81 seconds into the second, and they pressed for more to show their new/old coach.
But Bailey again created offense with the Devils on a power play, stripping Zajac of the puck to streak in for a semi-breakaway. Ilya Kovalchuk knocked Bailey into Brodeur and Frans Nielsen, with another strong two-way game, jumped on the loose puck for his third shorthanded goal of the season.
The Devils were 10-for-30 on the power play in their previous eight games but were 0-for-4last night.
“That’s a big power play right there, with the way they’d been going,” Wisniewski said. “And we’re able to kill them off and get the shorthander.”
Blake Comeau salted it away with a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle in the third.
The 41-year-old Roloson also stopped 34 shots Wednesday night in a win over Tampa Bay. “I’m just a young spring chicken,” he said. “I feel great.”
So, too, can the Islanders, who now are 15th in the Eastern Conference with 22 points, two more than the Devils.