DETROIT - There's just something about Motown that brings out the best in the Islanders.
Brock Nelson and Anders Lee scored and Jaroslav Halak stopped 17 shots as the Islanders beat the Red Wings, 2-1, Friday night for their fifth straight win in Detroit.
To be fair, those five wins at Joe Louis Arena have come over a long span. The Islanders haven't lost at The Joe since a 6-0 defeat on Nov. 28, 2003.
Still, the Islanders improved to 8-1-1 against the Red Wings in their last 10 meetings. Whether that's meaningful or an oddity is open to debate; what was meaningful was that the Islanders outshot the Red Wings 32-18, earned their third straight victory and took home two regulation points before their game against Tampa Bay Saturday night.
"You really . . . you can't . . . we're fortunate in certain ways," coach Jack Capuano said when asked about the Islanders' domination of the Red Wings. "Some teams we struggle with. Obviously, they're a good hockey club. Not saying that we have their number, but any time you play them, you know that you have to be at your best and have guys step up to the occasion."
The Islanders, who hadn't played since Monday, welcomed back defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic, both of whom had been out with upper-body injuries. The Islanders split the six games missed by both players.
Jimmy Howard started in goal for the Red Wings and allowed one goal on nine shots in a 1-1 first period. He was replaced by Petr Mrazek to start the second because of what the Red Wings termed a lower-body injury.
The Islanders tested Mrazek immediately when Josh Bailey drew a hooking penalty on Niklas Kronwall 38 seconds into the period. The Islanders had multiple point-blank chances (they were officially credited with four shots) at Mrazek on the power play. He stopped them all, including a final laser by Nelson that Mrazek corralled under his left armpit.
The Islanders took a 2-1 lead at 10:41 when Lee poked in a loose puck after Mrazek stopped a shot from Nelson and lost sight of it. A video review confirmed Lee's sixth goal of the season.
Gustav Nyquist hit the post behind Halak with 16:27 left in the third period. A video review confirmed the puck never crossed the line.
After the teams spent the first half of the opening period feeling each other out, the Red Wings struck first at 8:49 when Henrik Zetterberg sent the puck high over Halak's left shoulder. Zetterberg's sixth goal was a one-timer off a perfect feed from Darren Helm.
The Islanders' equalizer came at 16:03. Howard stopped a long blast from Lubomir Visnovsky but was slow to cover up. Nelson dived in and poked home the rebound for his 14th goal of the season.
"I just found out we've won five in a row," Nelson said. "It's a tough building to play in. There's a lot of history here."