Post Game Report 10/4/13: Islanders Win Season Opener in Shootout 4-3

A new season, a new beginning as the Islanders began the 2013-2014 season. This is their first as a member of the new Metropolitan Division begun in Newark, NJ against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center Friday night.  This was the first game of the season for the Islanders while the Devils were playing the back end of a back to back coming off a 3-0 loss last night on the road to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The game saw both teams walk away with points but it was the Islanders who got the important 2nd point in a 4-3 shootout victory. Many Islanders fans made the trip to “The Rock” for the season opener and Lets Go Islanders chants were heard throughout the game. The goaltending matchup for this game was Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders and Martin Brodeur for the Devils. It was also the first game for John Tavares as the captain of the Islanders. (Photo Credit: Pat Scudiero, from Prudential Center)

The 1st period began with both teams coming out storming from the opening faceoff with scoring opportunities both ways in the opening shifts. It was the Devils who took an early lead at about the 3 minute mark of the period as Damien Brunner scored his first goal as a member of the Devils. The lead didn’t last long as the Islanders got on the board for the first time this season, Michael Grabner scored on a breakaway through the 5 hole of Brodeur to tie the game at 1.

In the 2nd period the game remained even until the Devils Travis Zajac won a key faceoff in their offensive zone.  That faceoff setup Michael Ryder in the slot and beating Nabokov to put the Devils up 2-1, this was Ryder’s first goal as a member of the Devils.  Just like the first period, the Islanders found themselves playing from behind and breaking loose was Michael Grabner who scored for the 2nd time in the game to pull even at 2.

A minute into the 3rd period, the Islanders led for the first time in the game with a Frans Nielsen goal that was setup after a big Evgeni Nabokov save the other way. The Islanders lead wasn’t for long as the Devils evened the score, Damien Brunner scored his 2nd of the night and the game was tied again this time at 3. Throughout the last half of period 3 the story was goaltending as Nabokov and Brodeur making save after save eventually forcing this game into overtime.

The overtime period saw some defensive struggles for the Islanders but Nabokov once again made key saves to keep the score even as the game went to a shootout. The story still was goaltending as it took 6 rounds for a shootout goal but it was Matt Moulson who scored the lone goal and the only one needed as the Islanders got their first win of the season.

The start of a season usually is a time of adjustments and the Islanders certainly dealt with that in this game especially on defense with the new pairings. There were times in this game where the defense couldn’t make a play or create some offense and for the team overall some miscommunications in the 2nd period on line changes. In result after some corrections for the 3rd period, coach Jack Capuano made the adjustments and focused the team when it mattered most. “It was a good hockey game and we battled back, we didn’t play the best but had success in the 2nd half,” Capuano told reporters. “We didnt manage the puck well, we had too many turnovers and you can’t create offense when playing mostly in the neutral zone.

The impact players of this game for the Islanders were Michael Grabner who had 2 goals and an assist and Evgeni Nabokov who recorded 26 saves to get the win in the season opener. Nabokov made various key saves throughout the game and he continues to show his value to this team in big spots. “It was your typical first game but we found a way to win,” Nabokov said to reporters. “It was good for our team and we need to keep it going.” A continuity of the Islanders that they never give up and it was shown throughout this game coming from behind twice. “I was happy with our guys tonight and we never quit against a very good hockey team,” said coach Capuano to reporters.

The Islanders win their first game in the new Metropolitan Division and now head home for the Nassau Coliseum season opener tomorrow night as they welcome in the Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time is set for 7pm at the Coliseum.

-John Santamaria

Follow me @JSantamariaNY and follow us @TCLIsles