The sound defensive structure and the solid goaltending are familiar to the Islanders under Barry Trotz. What the team needs consistently this season is more of a dangerous, quick-strike offense.
“Everyone talks about scoring for us, but we have a lot of weapons on the team,” center Brock Nelson said. “When we’re moving, playing good systems, playing tight defense, we’re going to get chances. It’s just up to us to capitalize on them.”
Sunday night’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets before 9,923 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum showed how effective the Islanders can be if they get all three, which they did in the last two periods.
Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier each had a goal and an assist, and 10 Islanders had at least one point.
The Islanders were 21st in the NHL last season with 228 goals and their power play ranked 29th, but they finished second in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points and reached the second round of the playoffs.
“We had success last year just grinding it out, putting pucks deep and using our forecheckers’ speed,” said Beauvillier, whose second-effort goal at the crease, backhanding a loose puck under the crossbar, restored the Islanders’ three-goal lead at 1:25 of the third period. “We just have to bear down on our chances and use our speed to get pucks deep. That’s how we’re going to have success.”
Thomas Greiss made 35 saves after Semyon Varlamov started Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Capitals at the Coliseum in the season opener. Laurent Brossoit (29 saves) kept the Jets in the game despite the Islanders’ three-goal second period. It easily was their best so far, and it could have yielded more.
“I thought the whole second period, we looked good, we looked fast, we made good line changes,” Trotz said. “You’re getting production throughout the lineup. Everybody feels they’ve got a role. I’m not afraid to play one through four against anybody.”
The Islanders’ attack again looked rusty in the first period, as in much of Friday’s loss. Few dangerous chances were created in the offensive zone and the Isles often had trouble getting the puck past the red line.
But the Islanders started the second period on the power play after defenseman Carl Dahlstrom interfered with Beauvillier at 19:57 of the first period. Beauvillier’s feed set up Bailey’s redirection in the low slot for a 1-0 lead at 1:51 of the second period and Bailey found Nelson in the right circle at 4:38 as Nelson snapped a shot under the crossbar to make it 2-0. Defenseman Scott Mayfield’s blue-line shot went in off Anders Lee’s skate as the Isles went up 3-0 at 15:55. Brossoit did make back-to-back pad saves on Nelson’s shorthanded breakaway at 11:15.
Patrik Laine beat Greiss high to the short side from the right circle off the rush to bring the Jets — who rallied from a four-goal deficit in Friday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Devils — within 3-1 at 17:06 of the second.
Notes & quotes: Trotz was recognized during a first-period stoppage for passing Islanders Hall of Famer Al Arbour by coaching his 1,608th game, moving him into third place on the NHL’s all-time list behind Scotty Bowman (2,141) and the Panthers’ Joel Quenneville (1,638). “It’s sort of cool I did it with the Islanders,” said Trotz, who also has coached the Predators and Capitals. “I have so much respect for Al.” . . . Defenseman Josh Morrissey was a late scratch for the Jets after suffering an upper-body injury in warm-ups . . . Island Park’s Anthony Bitetto had an assist on Laine’s goal.