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AIR JORDAN! Eberle Scores Twice as Islanders Down Devils

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Jordan Eberle scores for the New York Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Jordan Eberle scored his first two goals of the year as the New York Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the Nassau Coliseum.

The two-goal effort from Eberle came on a night that the Islanders’ top-six forwards contributed to all four of the team’s goals. Eberle, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson combined for six points.

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“You want to get off to a good start,” Eberle said. “You put the puck in once and you start to feel it especially when you get into game three, four, five. You want to contribute. My linemates, we created a few chances and we had some good looks the past few games. We hit a few posts and we just haven’t really capitalized. It’s nice that we finished a few off today.”

Eberle’s two-goal night was his first the Aug. 4 against the Florida Panthers during the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Barzal had his first three-point performance (one goal, two assists) since March 5 against Ottawa and Nelson’s third-period goal was his second of the season.

Thursday’s win over New Jersey played out in a similar fashion to the New York Islanders season-opening win over the New York Rangers. They dominated the first period, outshooting New Jersey 15-6, and scoring twice before having to hold off a push from the Garden State visitors in the second.

“The first period was more of our identity,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “New Jersey has some really good speed. … I thought we just played the right way. We jumped on them. They’ve been a quick start team. I thought that was key and then getting that late goal was good. I thought we had enough chances, enough zone time that we should have been getting that second goal.”

Semyon Varlamov helped fend off the second-period surge by New Jersey, but had his shutout streak snapped at 142:10 after Nathan Bastian scored from the high slot. Varlamov’s shutout streak from the start of the season was the eighth longest in NHL history.

Varlamov’s job was made easier by the Islanders’ strong power play on Thursday, which converted on two of its three chances against New Jersey. Both came in the third period and allowed the Islanders to fortify their lead.

“I think last two years he’s been pretty consistent the whole way through,” Barzal said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a stretch where he hasn’t played well. To start the season, it’s really nice to see him come back and just kind of dominate in net. He just looks calm and feels real secure with him in between the pipes.”

Already up 2-1, Eberle cashed in quick on an early third-period power play for the Islanders. A shot by Noah Dobson missed the net and bounced right to Eberle, who was able to beat Scott Wedgewood from a tough angle.

Nelson scored the Islanders’ second power-play goal of the night at 5:16 of the third. He was able to deflect a Nick Leddy shot past  Wedgewood to give the Isles a three-goal lead.

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The New York Islanders jumped to an early lead less than five minutes into the game. Barzal took the puck from his own end and into the offensive zone, where he fired a blistering shot into the corner of the net to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

After controlling the play and keeping the Puck in New Jersey’s end for most of the first period, the Islanders found paydirt again with 20.9 seconds left in the first. Barzal did a good job to force a New Jersey turnover in the Islanders end and then quickly move the puck up to Anders Lee.

The Islanders captain muscled the puck past PK Subban to Eberle, who put the backhander past Scott Wedgewood.

New Jersey cut the Islanders lead to one in the second period. A shot by Bastian from the high slot got by Varlamov for New Jersey’s only goal.

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