Jordan Eberle finally breaks out as Islanders top Red Wings
DETROIT— The Islanders have done a lot more winning than losing this season yet not everything seemed complete.
Top wings Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle were struggling to score.
That narrative could fade to the background after Monday night’s 4-1 win over the hapless Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Eberle scored his first two goals of the season and Lee now has a two-game goal streak.
“Ever since the ankle injury, I’ve come back and I’ve had a ton of chances,” said Eberle, who missed 10 games from Oct. 14-Nov. 7. “You get frustrated for sure and start gripping your stick. It’s funny how it works like that. You don’t score and then you get two.”
It was the second straight game Josh Bailey played in Eberle’s usual spot on Mathew Barzal’s top line with Lee. Eberle was on rookie Otto Koivula’s line with Leo Komarov.
“Those guys were having a bit of a tough go for a stretch and that’s just hockey,” said defenseman Ryan Pulock, who had three assists. “To get them both on the board here it’s really key for our team.”
So was goalie Semyon Varlamov, who made 30 saves for the Islanders (18-5-2) as the Red Wings went 1-for-6 on the power play with 10 of their shots. But his best save came at even strength at 8:25 of the third period as he reached up to stone Tyler Bertuzzi.
“Really strong,” Lee said of Varlamov. “We were in the box a little bit too much and he saw the puck extremely well, kicking them out.”
So, it’s a two-game winning streak for the Islanders, who conclude this two-game road trip on Tuesday night at Montreal. The Canadiens are in an 0-5-3 slump.
The Red Wings (7-20-3) have lost eight straight in regulation — after having a seven-game regulation losing streak earlier this season — and are in an 0-8-2 skid overall. Goalie Jimmy Howard, defensemen Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daley and forwards Justin Abdelkader and Anthony Mantha are all on injured reserve.
Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped 21 shots but the Islanders had their first two-goal first period since a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs on Nov. 13 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Lee, who scored his first goal in 12 games in Saturday night’s 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets at Barclays Center, made it 1-0 at 8:46 as he parked himself in front of Bernier and took the feed from Barzal, who retrieved the puck behind the net.
Eberle, who had 19 goals last season, scored his first goal from the right post on the power play at 16:34 of the second period to make it 3-1. It was the first power-play goal in five games for the Islanders, who were unable to capitalize on a five-on-three for one minute, 28 seconds preceding Eberle’s score.
Eberle’s second goal — reversed after initially being waved off for potential goalie interference — came from nearly the same spot to make it 4-1 at 13:24 of the third period.
“I think Jordan has played pretty well,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “I was saying, ‘Just stay with it, get close to the net.’ Today, both of his goals were within a few feet of the net. That’s good. We need him. Same for Leesy. They’re a big part of what we do.”
The Red Wings failed on their first four power plays before Dylan Larkin connected on a backhander to cut the Islanders’ lead to 2-1 at 10:36 of the second period.
Anthony Beauvillier had made it 2-0 at 13:17 of the first period as Bailey sprung him for a breakaway backhander as he exited the penalty box.