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Nelson, Islanders Turn on Offense in 5-1 win over New Jersey

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New York Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Were the New York Islanders exercising some of their demons on Saturday night? Perhaps.

The Islanders scored five goals against the New Jersey Devils and snapped a three-game skid with a 5-1 win in what could be the last regular-season game at the Nassau Coliseum. Saturday marked the first time since April 20 against the New York Rangers that the Islanders have scored five or more goals in a single game.

“Basically we’re in tuneup mode and we want to find ourselves,” Jordan Eberle said. “Find our game so we’re at our best moving into the playoffs. Sometimes these games can be a little bit difficult, but we definitely worked hard. Found a way to win and the next game against Boston we’re still fighting to move up. We’re going to need a win against them moving into the playoffs.”

Brock Nelson scored twice in the second period to break a 1-1 tie and Kyle Palmieri and Mathew Barzal each added a goal in the third to extend the Islanders lead. The goal was Palmieri’s second since being traded to the New York Islanders on April 7.

Ilya Sorokin made 23 saves in his 21st start of the season. He finished the year with a 13-6-0 record on his rookie campaign.

While the New York Islanders hopes for home-ice in the playoffs is gone, they still have a chance at moving up one spot in the East Division. The win moved the Islanders a point behind Boston, which lost to the Rangers on Saturday afternoon, for third in the division.

“I think we wanted to come out with a good effort and get a good win for our final home game of the season,” Josh Bailey said. “Pretty good game from us. We had good goaltending. I thought everyone played hard and got the job done.”

The win came at a time the Islanders desperately needed one after dropping three straight to non-playoff teams. The Islanders also found themselves in a 4-6-2 rut that has raised concerns about the team’s ability to go deep in the playoffs.

“I think we said we’re going to worry about our own game and we did that,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We practiced that way yesterday, with a lot of purpose, and then for the first two periods we did a fantastic job of playing our game. We had a couple of moments where we just didn’t manage the puck. Then when we scored the two goals to make it 5-1 I thought some of our players got very loose with the puck.

“Turnovers that transition to chances against.”

Nelson scored his first of two goals nine minutes into the middle frame while the Islanders were on the power play. Oliver Wahlstrom had his one-timer attempt stopped, but Mackenzie Blackwood failed to hold onto the rebound and Nelson had the easy putback.

The Isles forward made it a 3-1 game just under four minutes later after New Jersey turned over the puck in the neutral zone. This time it was Anthony Beauvillier who had his initial shot stopped and the rebound was moved over to Nelson for the goal by Josh Bailey.

The two goals snapped an eight-game goal drought for Nelson and it was his first multi-goal game since March 7 against Buffalo.

Palmieri added to the Islanders’ lead early in the third off the rush. Wahlstrom flipped the puck up to Palmieri, who sprung past the New Jersey Defenders and then slid the puck past Blackwood.

Barzal scored his 16th goal of the season at the 4:09 mark of the third to put the Islanders up by four. Leo Komarov forced a turnover in the Islanders’ end and allowed for Barzal and Beauvillier to break out on a two-on-one.

“I thought throughout the night all four lines were generating chances,” Palmieri said. “I think all the lines were going tonight and generating. It’s nice to kind of get contributions up and down the lineup like that.”

The Islanders did open the scoring late in the first period of the game. Eberle snapped a goal drought of his own by scoring with 1:59 left in the first period to put the Islanders up 1-0.

Andreas Johnsson scored at 4:58 into the second period to tied the game at one.

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