The New York Islanders weren’t running with the Devils on Sunday evening, they were running through them.
The Islanders skated to a dominant 4-0 win, extending their point streak to 10 games (8-0-2) while improving to 7-0-2 against the Metropolitan Division.
Marek Zidlicky scored twice against his former team, while John Tavares and Matt Martin also found the back of the net for the Islanders, who established the 4-0 lead after two periods. Thomas Greiss made 27 saves for his first shutout as an Islander.
“I thought tonight was good,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “Overall, I was looking for a game where we got our defense involved. It’s been a while since we’ve done that. We grinded it out, we played good. Back-to-back nights against a team sitting here waiting for us with a 5 o clock game. I give our guys a lot of credit.”
Zidlicky opened the scoring with his trademark slap shot, ripping one top corner past Cory Schneider just as an Islanders’ power play expired at 7:43 of the first period. Zidlicky also scored the Islanders’ fourth goal, beating Keith Kinkaid – who replaced Schneider in the second period – beating the Devils backup with a half slapper low blocker side.
“Throughout his career that’s what he’s been known for,” Capuano said of Zidlicky’s shot. “It’s his release, he has a lot of velocity on it. It’s accurate. He’s got a special shot. That first goal was a big goal for us tonight.”
Tavares was all over the ice Sunday, picking pockets, setting up plays and creating scoring chances. The captain was rewarded for his strong play midway through the first period, tapping in a backdoor feed from Kyle Okposo. Tavares’ goal ended a four-game point drought and put the Islanders up 2-0 after one.
The Islanders didn’t let up in the second period, as Martin extended the lead to 3-0. Casey Cizikas got the first deflection on a Calvin de Haan point shot, but Martin also got a stick on it for his third of the season and second in four games. Martin’s goal chased Schneider, who allowed three goals on 18 shots. Kinkaid replaced Schneider, but Zidlicky delivered the backbreaker with under a minute to play in the second period.
“We wanted to establish our game early,” Tavares said. “We seemed to be sharper today. For whatever reason, we had our legs right off the get-go and we were able to sustain it. That was the good part. We didn’t just come out hard, but we were able to keep that going for a full 60.”
Even being up 4-0, the Islanders played like a desperate hockey team and not one on a 10-game point streak. Johnny Boychuk laid out for a painful-looking block on Sergey Kalinin in the third period and Steve Bernier – in for Ryan Strome – dropped the gloves with Adam Larsson early in the second period.
The Islanders penalty kill also went 3-for-3, and have killed 21 straight penalties over the last nine games.
The Islanders look to extend their streak when they host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.