Isles Defeat Devils 3-1 In Front of Sold Out Crowd

The New York Islanders played in a packed house filled with two fan bases that were seething with animosity towards one another. In previous years, a visiting division rival fan base would overtake the Coliseum and diminish most “Let’s Go Islanders” chants.

Not this year.

On a night where the team was honoring Islanders legend, Denis Potvin, Isles fans quickly extinguished the chants from New Jersey fans and drowned out their support (as well as throw in many other chants as well) with ease as the home team fought for a 3-1 victory in front of a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd.

Nikolay Kulemin would open up the scoring by sneaking a loose puck through the pads of Corey Schneider. John Tavares sent the puck to Kyle Okposo, whose initial shot was stopped. Schneider thought that he had the puck closed between his legs, but it trickled through just enough for Kulemin to poke it in to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.

The Devils would tie the game up just a few minutes later with Damien Brunner redirecting a point shot from Adam Larsson past Jaroslav Halak. Michael Ryder had the other assist, which helped the Devils keep the game tied at one apiece at the end of the first twenty minutes.

The game wouldn’t remain tied for long as Calvin de Haan would help put the Islanders ahead early in the second period. Casey Cizikas fed de Haan the puck at the blue line, who then confidently dangled his way around the opposing forward and ripped a slap shot that clipped Cal Clutterbuck in front for his third goal of the year.

The Islanders would continue to buzz during the second, peppering Schneider with shot after shot, creating several scoring chances. Basically, the Islanders did everything but score over the course of three to four minutes. As of the 12-minute mark of the second, the Isles were outshooting the Devils 24-11.

Ryan Strome was called for a hooking minor during the second period, which allowed the Devils to get a few scoring chances on Halak. However, the Isles net-minder prevailed through the attack, making some stellar saves that kept the Isles ahead by one after a successful kill.

The score would remain the same after two periods despite the Islanders walking to the dressing room after sending Schneider a flurry of scoring chances in the middle frame.

“In the second I thought we were absolutely dominant,” said Kyle Okposo after the game. “And in the third period they came out and made a push but I thought we did a pretty good job pushing back, settled down, made some plays, and were able to get a big two points.”

The Islanders would get a power play opportunity early on in the third period, but would fail to score. The Isles went scoreless last night with the man-advantage.

The Devils would up the pressure around the halfway point of the third, turning the game around offensively. As of the 11:21 mark, the Islanders were being outshot 31-27 by the visiting team. But Halak stood tall, earning several “Jaro” chants from over 16,000 fans.

With 3:10 remaining in the game, Brock Nelson took an undisciplined Holding the Stick penalty. He and Steve Bernier were competing for the puck from the blue line to the front of the Isles net with both players giving each other whacks and shoves until Nelson took the minor.

The Isles were 55 seconds away from killing off Nelson’s minor when de Haan was called for hooking. The Devils were showering Halak with shots and getting many chances in front when de Haan was forced to take down a Devils forward in front of the Isles net.

The Isles would block all three shot attempts by the Devils during the 5-on-3, and the building reached volumes of playoff level hockey.

With the crowd standing on their feet, the Isles held down the fort with Cizikas scoring a shorthanded empty net goal with four seconds remaining in the game to seal off a 3-1 victory for the Islanders.

This win gave the Isles the most wins in the NHL by any team and keeps them tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Halak is now only one win away from tying Billy Smith’s record of ten straight wins by an Islanders goaltender.

The Isles have officially gone 11-4 during the month of November, a month where this team is notorious for struggling during the regular season. This is the best November that this team has had since they won 12 games in 1980.

And on the second half of back-to-back games, the Islanders pulled out a win at home after losing on the road the night before, something that really didn’t happen all too often last season.

“We got a different team, different make up, different group of guys,” said Okposo. “We got some confidence and everybody wants to talk about last year and we’re not the same team. I’ve said it from day one before the season started. We got a good group of guys in here. We’re learning how to win and we're going to try to continue to do that through the season.

Looks like this group of Islanders is learning very quickly.

-Rob McGowan

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