When it comes to the New York Islanders this season, the second time just isn’t the charm.
The Islanders dropped the backend of a home-and-home with the New Jersey Devils 2-0 at the Prudential Center. It was the second time in the young season that the Islanders have failed to win the second game against the same opponent.
The loss dropped the New York Islanders to 3-2-0 through their first five games of the year.
“Give them credit they played a better game and we certainly didn’t,” Josh Bailey said. “I thought there was at times we were creating and it’s tough when you get behind. The ice wasn’t very good. It’s tough to claw your way back into. It puts even that much more emphasis into having a good start. We were pushing in the third, but we just couldn’t find a way.”
It was a pair of first period goals that sunk the Islanders, who never seemed to fully get into a rhythm against New Jersey. Prior to Sunday New Jersey had not beaten the Islanders in their last three times playing them at the Prudential Center.
Rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin made his second NHL start for the Islanders, finishing the game with 22 saves on 24 shots. It was a better performance than the surprise start he had last Saturday against the New York Rangers.
“I felt good today, better than the first game,” Sorokin said. “I’m disappointed with the second game, second loss, but the team helped me. Teammates helped me and I hope with work I’ll be good.”
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz also made one other lineup change on Sunday. Young forward Kieffer Bellows was replaced by Michael Dal Colle, who came off injured reserve earlier in the day. It was Dal Colle’s first game of the 2020-21 season.
A pair of late first-period goals ended up sinking the New York Islanders hopes of sweeping New Jersey.
Jack Hughes fired a blistering shot from just inside the faceoff circle for the game’s first goal with New Jersey on the power play. The goal was Hughes’ third of the season.
New Jersey took the two-goal advantage when Pavel Zacha scored with a minute left in the period. Nikita Gusev had an initial shot from the high slot, but Sorokin couldn’t handle the rebound.
Zacha was able to pick up the loose puck and put it past the Isles netminder for the goal.
“We weren’t willing to get greasy enough to get one in,” Trotz said. “We made it a little too easy on them. We were on the perimeter just as much Lindy (Ruff) talked about his team not being able to get on inside. … We didn’t do enough of that early in the game. We did it more in the third.”
The Islanders played a portion of Sunday’s loss without one of their top-six forwards. Anthony Beauvillier missed most of the second period and all of the third. There was no update on Beauvillier after the game.