ELMONT, NY– The New York Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night as they held on to a third-period lead for the second time in as many opportunities this preseason. It was a relatively slow start for the Islanders, but thanks to a few late goals in the first period, the Islanders used that as momentum as the offensive came alive.
Here’s your Rapid Recap:
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Ryan Graves gave the New Jersey Devils a 1-0 lead at 8:13 of the first period. Following an Alexander Romanov turnover, the Devils cycled, and Graves’s wrist shot from the left circle beat New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov under the glove. The goal was assisted by Damon Severson and Brian Halonen.
The New York Islanders tied the contest at one as Mathew Barzal made a few moves on a semi-breakaway to beat New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood glove side at 16:38 of the first period. Ryan Pulock made a strong play to bat puck down at the blue line before chipping the puck to a wide-open Barzal.
Noah Dobson beat Blackwood blocker side on a 3-on-1 to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead with around a minute and a half to go in the first period. Anthony Beauvillier and Kieffer Bellows were credited with the assists.
The Devils knotted the score just under nine minutes into the second period on the power play as following a Ross Johnston blocked shot, Graeme Clarke beat Varlamov on the backhand. The goal was unassisted.
Ross Johnston gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead at 14:48 of the second period as he redirected a Paul LaDue point shot past Blackwood. LaDue and Aatu Räty were credited with the assists.
Anthony Beauvillier gave the Islanders a 4-2 lead just over two minutes into the third period as he finished off a quick feed by Brock Nelson into an open cage as Blackwood was caught out of position thanks to a Robin Salo chance moments earlier. Nelson and Noah Dobson were credited with the assists.
Aatu Räty gave the Islanders a 5-2 lead as he turned around in the slot and fired a laser beam of a wrister past Blackwood’s glove at 9:23 of the third period. Nikita Soshnikov and Adam Pelech were credited with the assists.
It was a sloppy start for the New York Islanders, particularly in their own zone. Errand passes along the boards, and a failure to communicate gave the New Jersey Devils plenty of opportunities to cash in, which they did on one of those turnovers.
Adam Pelech did not look like himself as he was making mistakes and allowing Devil forwards to get around him easily, which is very uncharacteristic of the shutdown defenseman. Alexander Romanov also struggled, turning the puck over a couple of times.
“We’re going to talk about that as we go forward,” head coach Lane Lambert shared. “You know, is there one specific thing, no? Maybe there’s a couple of things, but we’ll have to address that because there’s no question we didn’t start the way we wanted to.”
The Islanders improved their structure in the second period, which allowed for more offensive chances.
Paul LaDue continued to show why he should not be written off for the seventh defenseman spot as he picked up an assist, along with
Semyon Varlamov built on his last preseason start as he was sound positionally, which led to few rebounds. And if there were rebounds, they were directed to the corners, away from trouble.
Ross Johnston was a physical presence on the ice throughout the contest, standing up for his teammates as he usually does. He did drop the gloves with Mason Geertsen, but the referees got in the way.
Johnston also scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, which served as the game-winner as he used his frame to garner inside position in front of Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood before redirecting a Paul LaDue point shot.
Right place, right time for Ross Johnston. pic.twitter.com/Svn263n41i
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 7, 2022
“I think it’s always pretty rewarding when you can contribute but yeah kept it simple and hopefully those come more often,” Johnston said.
Prospect Aatu Räty scored a beauty of a goal as he showed off his shot from the slot. After being cut on Wednesday, he was back up with the Islanders as they have a few players that are banged up.
Thursday night was another opportunity for Räty to leave his mark, a player who has stood out since development camp open. And that he did.
Aatu Räty reporting for duty. pic.twitter.com/qDxILCtUJq
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 7, 2022
Räty finished the night with a goal, an assist, and a block in 13:38 TOI.
The Islanders have not had many third-period leads this preseason, with only two opportunities to close a game out. Well, the Islanders are two for two in that regard, as they shut the door in the third period Thursday night, allowing just seven shots on Varlamov in the final frame.
“He played great,” Ross Johnston said postgame. “Not just the goal, but he was kind of involved all over the ice. So he’s a dangerous player with high skill, and it’s nice to see him finally put one home.”
Up Next: The New York Islanders will host the New York Rangers at UBS Arena on Saturday, Oct. 8, for their final preseason game. Puck drop is slated for 7 PM.