The New York Islanders put on good afternoon show Monday that took the wind out of the Red Wings sails. Four players from the Isles contributed to a fantastic 4-1 victory over Detroit at Barclay’s Center. Three unanswered in the second period left their opponents little chance of making a comeback.
The Wings played another matinee game but away from home as they start a four game road trip lasting a week. First up was the Islanders who goaltender Jimmy Howard would face for the first time this season. They looked for a second win that came back in January while on home ice. With the series back in Brooklyn, the Isles would try to regain the lead and give him all they had.
Detroit had plenty of time to score goals but allowed their division rivals to do the same. Though they stopped them from tying the game through regulation, the object of holding off the opposition needed to be worked on. Detroit hoped that they could do the same while avoiding New York from gaining any leverage against them.
They only took a pair of shots through seven minutes of play but gained a chance to light up Thomas Greiss in net for the Islanders. The 6’1 netminder made a great stop against Detroit rookie Dylan Larkin who tried to make something of rekindling his scoring streak. It was the only shot to the net they had as the Islanders finished strong on the PK.
The Red Wings didn’t stop the offense on even strength as four more shots from Detroit’s third line got to work but couldn’t break one into the net. Neither team made a difference on the scoreboard as the goalies dealt with eight shots each.
Things in the second were slow through the first five minutes as the teams took four shots each before the scales swayed differently. The Islanders got their second power play of the game where they used the time wisely attacking Howard relentlessly.
Despite not scoring with their power play unit, New York had solid consistency that ran through time on even strength. Ryan Strome set up the puck high in the air where its arc landed in front of Brock Nelson for him to score his 21st of the season at 8:24. They increased the deficit on Detroit with a power play goal led by Nelson on the shot to the net. The rebound got back to Josh Bailey who was set up with an open part of the net notching his tenth of the season with 5:03 left in the period.
Detroit got another bad break to work against them as a rebound from Cal Clutterbuck’s shot on net slid around the crease for Marek Zidlicky to shoot the puck making it 3-0. It was his fourth of the season giving the Islanders a huge grip on winning this one. They outshot the Red Wings 24-19 with twenty minutes left to hang on to a large margin.
They held the Red Wings to a pair of shots through eight minutes of play as the wheels were falling off for their team while the Isles held things together. They handed Detroit a power play but a rookie mistake cut them off putting New York on a short man advantage. When things returned to even strength the Red Wings caught the Islanders off guard in their zone opening the chance for a comeback. On the play, Gustav Nyquist shot the puck that went off Greiss and away from the crease. Pavel Datsyuk came in shooting the puck under the closing arm of the New York netminder to score his 12th of the season and third straight goal.
Preventing a shutout was what Detroit needed with half the period in the books, but scoring two more were needed to prevent taking a road loss. The gap returned to three with Isles captain John Tavares giving Strome a beautiful set up. Knowing that Strome was behind him on the right, the team leader backhanded the puck to the 22 year old to score his seventh on a wrister to the top shelf.
It was the last one they got against the Red Wings spending the rest of the time in regulation moving the puck away leaving them very little opportunity to comeback. The horn sounded success for New York and frustration for Detroit but more for Howard who suffered his fourth consecutive loss making 28 saves for a .875 save percentage. While its clear that he needs some sort of miraculous improvements, he and the Detroit squad would move west to face the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night.