The Devils and Islanders were deadlocked for much of the game, but New York got the jump on New Jersey in the third on route to a 2-1 victory. The loss was the Devils third in a row, their second such streak since Feb. 20.
The loss was also a disappointing result given it was the Devils first game of the season to host fans, with the building filled at 10% capacity. And the shutout put a stop to what was a 10-game point streak for New Jersey forward Pavel Zacha.
For the Devils, the story of this one was missed opportunities on special teams.
"In our eyes, the way we played, we didn't see it as a race [to the first goal]," said Miles Wood, who scored the Devils only goal late in the third. "We know they're a stingy team. They're great in the D-zone, they clog up the neutral zone very well. We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game and we had to stay calm. It wasn't a race to score the first goal, it was the first team to crack. Unfortunately, we were first to crack. It was a tough loss, for sure."
The first period remained scoreless, despite a few big saves by Aaron Dell, who was making his second start of the season for New Jersey.
"We did a lot of great things," said Dell. "We got a couple tough bounces and it just didn't go in for us tonight. They're a very strong defensive team. I was happy with how we played overall, we just had some bounces that didn't go in for us."
The Devils had a rapid succession of power plays early in the second period but failed to convert, despite sustained zone time on the second of the two.
"That was our opportunity," said Head Coach Lindy Ruff.
"I thought a couple of the power plays were good, we moved it around quick. We got some pucks. There were a couple times we didn't get the bounce we wanted, didn't find the hole. It was probably the difference in the game. I thought 5-on-5, we played a solid game. It's hard not to get rewarded when you play that hard."
With 11:02 left in the second, Kyle Palmieri had one of the Devils best chances of the game. He broke in on Semyon Varlamov but was tripped up and slid to the ice past the net.
The Devils much-maligned power play went back to work for the third time in the period. And for the third time, the man advantage was kept out of the net. The Devils power play was blanked on four attempts.
The game remained scoreless until 1:10 of the third period. Oliver Whalstrom fired a wicked wrist shot past Dell to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders padded their lead at 7:51 of the final frame when Anders Lee whacked home his own rebound after an initial pad save by Dell. It was Lee's 10th goal of the season.
Miles Wood scored his seventh of the season with just 13.2 seconds left on the clock. Time wound down on the Devils, closing out a disappointing result.