Thanks to a pair of short-handed goals by Josh Bailey and a two-point night from Anders Lee, the New York Islanders won their first preseason game, 5-3, over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday. Kevin Poulin played the entire game in net and though he gave up a pair of goals in quick succession in the second, but recovered to earn the win.
The Islanders struck first at 3:31 of the opening period on their first power-play opportunity of the game. Ryan Strome found Brock Nelson in the right circle, who fed it in front to Lee. The first-year pro stuffed it home and gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
“Nelson made a good play to get it to me in front after [Strome] found him on the short wall,” Lee said. “I just found the net and put it in.”
Lee scored in on his very first NHL shift on April 2 in a game against the Winnipeg Jets. He also notched an assist in his second game.
“Sometimes you just get the bounces,” Lee said. “It’s always good to contribute any way you can.”
The Devils picked up a power-play opportunity a couple minutes later, but a 2-on-1 shorthanded break for the Islanders led to Bailey’s first of the game and a 2-0 Islanders lead. After the Devils cut the lead in half on a Rotislav Olesz deflection, Bailey scored shorthanded again. His initial shot was stopped, but Martin Brodeur kicked the rebound right back out to him, and the second effort gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead.
Eric Boulton, whose penalty led to Bailey’s second shorthanded opportunity, came streaking out of the box as it expired and found himself on a breakaway with less than a minute to play in the first. He headed straight down the middle and beat Brodeur at the 19:34 mark to give the Islanders a 4-1 lead. There were some fisticuffs in the first period, as well, as Brett Gallant and Krys Barch dropped the gloves twice.
The Devils came out firing on all cylinders in the second period and scored a pair of goals 1:13 apart. Marek Zidlicky sent a blast through traffic that beat Poulin at 2:37, followed by a wrist shot from John Merrill at 3:50, cutting the Islanders lead to one. But that was the last time Poulin would be beat on the night.
“I thought Kevin was solid,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “I didn’t know if there was shots he couldn’t see there in the second, but I thought he made the saves when he needed to.”
Early in the third period, Peter Regin got on the board by breaking free from the Devils defense at the blue line and streaking in on a breakaway. He made a beautiful forehand-backhand move and extended the Islanders lead to two.
That was all for the goal scoring, but the action was certainly not done. Just before the Regin goal, Mike Dalhuisen dropped the gloves against Ryan Carter. With less than five minutes to play, a scrum ensued in front of the Islanders bench. Gallant and Barch decided it was time for Round 3, and after both tired themselves out after an extended bout, the linesmen stepped in and both received game misconducts for fighting three times in a game. Joey Diamond and Stephen Gionta also received five-minute majors for fighting, with their bout coming with less than a minute remaining.
The two teams will be back on the ice on Saturday at Barclays Center, with the opening faceoff set for 7 p.m.