In a battle of the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference, the Devils showed a glimpse of what-could’ve-been for their underachieving squad, toppling the Islanders 5-2 in Monday’s matinee at Nassau Coliseum.
For the third time in the last four games, the Devils scored five goals or more, a feat accomplished only twice in the previous 41 games this season.
The Islanders deserved an assist in the offensive onslaught, rolling over in the first period for yet another poor start. They have now surrendered the first goal in seven straight games, eight of the last nine.
And while the Islanders rallied briefly from a 3-0 hole with two quick strikes in the second and appeared to gain some traction before PA Parenteau’s second goal was disallowed, the Devils shut the door with another pair in the middle frame.
“Last game we had a good start but the last four of five before that we didn’t come out hard enough. And that’s been our problem lately. We have to fix that because it’s too important in this league,” Parenteau said.
In his fourth NHL start, rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin gave up two goals in the first 5:22 of play.
Vladimir Zharkov poked in a rebound at 4:25 for his first NHL goal, and 57 seconds later the Devils took a 2-0 lead on Ilya Kovalchuk’s one-timer from the left circle at 5:22, his fifth power-play goal of the season. Mattias Tedenby’s fifth goal of the season at 6:40 of the second period put the Devils up 3-0.
“They had a lot of shots in the first five minutes. They were like a torpedo out there,” Poulin said.
Curiously, Poulin was backed up by Nathan Lawson yesterday instead of Rick DiPietro. DiPietro, who suffered a groin strain two weeks ago, returned Saturday from a five-game absence to secure his seventh win with a 40-save performance to top the Sabres.
The Islanders responded with two goals midway through the second. Blake Comeau slipped a pass in front to Parenteau, who tallied his 11th at 10:56. Fifty-four seconds later, Michael Grabner scored in his second straight game, beating Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur from the slot to cut New Jersey’s lead to 3-2.
Just as they had done in the first, however, the Devils beat Poulin for two quick goals, scored by Rod Pelley and Dainius Zubrus, later in the period.
Parenteau appeared to notch his second goal of the game toward the end of the period, but the goal was waved off when a review of the play showed Grabner barreling into Brodeur before the goal.
As incensed as Brodeur was after the play, Islanders coach Jack Capuano and players seemed equally angry when the goal was overruled since Grabner was pushed into Brodeur by Devils defenseman Mark Fayne.
“I don’t think it should’ve been called off,” Parenteau said. “I think [the official] thought Brodeur got pushed by Grabner but you can see on the replay that [Grabner] got pushed by the Devils player.”
“I went to the net…got a push from behind, collided with the goalie. The ref next to the goal said it was a goal so I think he had the best view,” Grabner said. “I’m pretty sure he had a nice view of it, but it is what it is and we have to move on.”