Tuesday night’s result at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum was not surprising. The Islanders were angry and embarrassed by their previous night’s performance and the Red Wings are the worst team in the NHL
“It was a much better game by us,” Brock Nelson said. “We held the puck and did a lot of good things and we found a way to continue it through most of the game.”
The Islanders turned the Red Wings’ constant turnovers into a season-high for goals on just 26 shots in an 8-2 victory as they opened a three-game homestand at the Coliseum. It was a necessary reversal in effort and execution from Monday night’s 6-2 loss to the rival Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
And the Islanders got the offensive production from top-six forwards they’ve desperately needed. Nelson scored twice, captain Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier all added goals and Mathew Barzal had two assists.
“It’s always good to get multiple guys involved,” said Bailey, who snapped a 15-game goal-less streak to make it 2-0 at 3:59 of the first period after Eberle, with his third goal in four games, opened the scoring 36 seconds earlier. “I think it’s good for the team and it’s good for each guy’s confidence.”
Beauvillier’s goal to make it 7-1 at 5:12 of the third period was his first goal in 14 games.
“There’s a long list of people who, hopefully, we get them going,” said Islanders coach Barry Trotz, who shuffled his lines by putting Barzal between Lee and Eberle and Nelson between Beauvillier and Derick Brassard while Bailey once again shifted to centering the third line.
Thomas Greiss made 34 saves for the Islanders (28-13-4), who had been in a 2-3-1 skid and remained three points behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.
The Red Wings (12-32-3) are last in the NHL with 27 points and with a minus-81 goal differential and are without starting goalie Jonathan Bernier (lower body). Jimmy Howard, who lasted just 7:56, entered the game 59th out of 59 NHL goalies with at least 10 appearances with a 4.10 goals-against average and an .880 save percentage.
Still, the Islanders couldn’t afford to look ahead to Thursday’s rematch with the Rangers.
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“[Monday] night wasn’t our style of game and we knew, coming into today, that we had to come out strong to start,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “That’s the way you want to start a hockey game.”
Nelson took Beauvillier’s pass from behind the crease off another Red Wings’ turnover for a 3-0 lead at 7:56 of the first period. That brought in Calvin Pickard for Howard after he faced just seven shots.
Red Wings defenseman Filip Hornek scored a soft goal at 11:45 of the first period, beating Greiss over his blocker to the short side with a flip from the left point. But Lee, taking Barzal’s feed in the left circle, made it 4-1 at 18:30 of the first period. Eberle’s secondary assist gave him 500 career NHL points.
It was the Islanders’ first four-goal period of the season and their first four-goal first period in four seasons.
Nelson, sprinting out of the penalty box, made it 5-1 at 1:59 of the second period and rookie Noah Dobson scored his first NHL goal on a flip from the right that Red Wings defenseman Alex Biega swatted past Pickard.
“It’s not how you draw it up but they all look the same on the scoresheet,” Dobson said.
It got comical at 9:07 as defenseman Scott Mayfield’s entry took a funny bounce off the boards and Leo Komarov scored into an empty net for an 8-1 lead as Pickard went to play the puck behind his crease.