The New York Islanders scored a series of firsts in their second game at Barclays Center.
Ryan Pulock scored the Islanders first goal in their future home and the team picked up their first win – a 3-2 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils. The shootout, which Brock Nelson won in the third round on a sly wrist shot to the blocker side, was also a first on Atlantic Ave, avenging last September’s Islanders loss.
“It was nice to score a goal,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “Last year we never heard the horn go off and we didn’t know what it was going to be like. It’s preseason obviously, but it’s nice to get a win here. More importantly, it was a good step for some of our young guys tonight.”
Pulock and Nelson were two of those young players and both made an impact in their first trip to Barclays. Pulock, known in junior for his powerful slap shot, cemented his name into the Islanders Barclays Center history books with a blast from the point past Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid at 8:21 of the first period.
“I think the fans were waiting for it and they were pretty excited out there,” Pulock said. “[My slap shot] is a weapon I like to use. I try to get it off as much as possible. I had a wide open lane to the net and I had a pretty good shot at it.”
Colin McDonald put the Islanders ahead 2-0 three minutes later, taking advantage of a Kinkaid misplay and stuffing the puck into an unguarded net. The Islanders controlled the play in the first period, outshooting the Devils 11-3 en route to the two-goal lead.
Nelson said the excitement around Barclays Center was a reason for the Islanders hot start.
“It was definitely a unique experience,” Nelson said. “I think everyone was a little amped up and had a good time. We were able to come out and get a good jump on them a little early and it's a good starting point, but from there we have to continue to do that for a full 60 minutes."
The Devils responded in the second period, scoring the first of their two power-play goals. Martin Havlat halved the Islanders lead on a back-door play 8:08 into the second period, allowing Michael Ryder to tie the score 1:51 into the third.
“The penalty kill has been struggling, there’s no question,” Capuano said. “It’s frustrating for us. We made a few tweaks and guys are still getting used to the PK forecheck and how we want to kill in our zone. It’s still a work in progress.”
The penalty kill came together late in the third period, as the Islanders killed off a crucial minor in the final seven minutes.
Chad Johnson was solid in his first full game as an Islander, making 26 saves in regulation before stopping Adam Henrique and Havlat in the shootout. The Islanders first winning netminder in Brooklyn was also impressed with Barclays.
You could just feel the energy in the rink. - Chad Johnson
“It was fun, there was so much energy,” Johnson said. “You could just feel the energy in the rink.”
Kinkaid allowed two goals on 27 shots for the Devils.
Despite getting the win Friday, Capuano said he has a long way to go with regards to settling the Islanders lineup. That means the final roster, which featured 12 substitutions Friday from Wednesday’s iteration, could be very different come the Islanders next preseason game, Tuesday night in Boston.
“We have a ways to go on that,” Capuano said. “We are going to give opportunity and take a look at some different lines.”
For now, the Islanders will revel in a historic first, and the start of a new tradition on ice.