NEWARK — The Islanders didn’t underestimate the Devils this time around.
“They’re a fast team,” Casey Cizikas said. “I think we didn’t respect them enough in that first game, and that’s on us. That’s something we definitely learned from.”
The Islanders handed the Metropolitan Division-leading Devils a rare loss on Friday night at Prudential Center, opening a four-goal lead in the third period of a chippy game and holding on for a 6-4 victory.
The Devils skated six-on-five in a wild final 7:52 as Jack Hughes logged the longest shift in NHL history, staying on the ice for the final 6:02.
Given that the Devils (21-5-1) were 18-1-1 since Oct. 25 and the Islanders (17-11-0) came within one goal of their season high, this win likely ranks as their best of the season.
“These ones feel good when you can put together a solid effort on the road,” said Brock Nelson, who scored twice to extend his point streak to seven games. “It’s a team that’s been at the top of the league from the start of the season. It was a good test for us.”
Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves and defenseman Alexander Romanov made an impact with two assists and by knocking Miles Wood from the game with a clean second-period check.
The Islanders managed with only 11 forwards after Anthony Beauvillier hurt his left shoulder in the first period.
And they managed after goalie Akira Schmid exited for an extra skater and the Islanders leading 6-3.
Hughes brought the Devils within 6-4 at 13:39, then blocked back-to-back empty-net attempts by Romanov and Zach Parise. Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton later hit the crossbar.
“There was a lot going on,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “A different game for sure. But you’ve got to be prepared for whatever comes. We stuck with it. We stayed composed.”
The Devils, catching the Islanders flat-footed with their speed, dominated the teams’ first meeting with a 4-1 win at UBS Arena on Oct. 20. They held a 41-17 shot advantage and outchanced the Islanders 75-48.
Cizikas said that game served as a “wake-up call” for the Islanders, who won 13 of their next 19 games.
“I remember thinking about retiring that night,” said Cal Clutterbuck, who made it 6-3 at 1:00 of the third period after returning in the second period wearing a full cage after a first-period head butt that left his nose and upper lip bloodied.
“It was a combination of a perfect storm. They were starting that big run they went on. I really don’t think we were prepared for that and they didn’t let up. We had to look at ourselves after that one and say, ‘OK, boys, time to step up.’ ”
The Islanders drove Vitek Vanecek from the game in favor of a sharper Schmid after he allowed four goals on 17 shots.
Cizikas, finishing off an odd-man rush on Matt Martin’s feed, made it 3-1 at 3:31 of the second period with his first goal of the season. Oliver Wahlstrom, from the left circle, pushed it to 4-1 just 34 seconds later.
Dawson Mercer cut that to 4-2 on the rush at 6:03.
Nelson’s second goal of the game, a one-timer on the power play from low in the right circle, made it 5-2 at 16:47 of the second period.
Nico Hischier’s power-play goal gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 5:32 of the first period, but Nelson scored a tying wraparound goal at 15:37 before Lee converted from the slot with 9.0 seconds left in the first period.
The second-place Hurricanes will visit UBS Arena on Saturday night.