The New York Islanders made it a point to start their two-game road trip off with a win and they delivered with a 4-1 showing over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Jordan Eberle broke through his scoreless drought with two goals, while Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier also found the back of the net. Semyon Varlamov turned away 30 shots from a desperate Red Wings team, as the Isles won for the 18th time in 25 games, matching a club record.
The rousing win came in spite of the Isles taking six penalties, including three in the second period all within a five-minute span and being outshot 31-25 by a frustrated Detroit squad, who extended their winless streak to 10 games with tonight's loss.
"We've got to clean up a few things," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "They were playing desperate. They threw a lot of pucks. They had 56 attempts, but I thought we did a pretty good job. They had six power plays and they went one-for-six. We'll take the win and move on."
Video: Eberle scores twice, Islanders defeat Red Wings
The Isles took a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission as Lee scored for the second-straight game after breaking out of an 11-game goal drought, despositing a Mathew Barzal rebound in front of the net. Beauvillier rushed out of the penalty box to score his ninth goal of the season on a breakaway and beat Red Wings Jonathan Bernier with a backhand after Beauvillier served a hooking minor.
The Isles second period was a different story, as the Isles usually-stingy commitment to detail - the fabric in their identity - slipped, as they relinquished three costly penalties over the span of five minutes. Detroit's Dylan Larkin scored on the third penalty of the middle frame to cut the Red Wing's deficit down to one goal and snapped Varlamov's personal shutout streak at 76:30.
"If you stay five-on-five and play the way we can, I feel very comfortable. But we took too many penalties," Trotz said. "The damn finally broke. The penalty kill did a really good job and then they make it 2-1."
Video: NYI@DET: Beauvillier buries backhander on breakaway
Special teams eventually tipped the Isles way, as they were allotted 1:28 of a five-on-three opportunity late in the second period and just as the two-man advantage expired, Eberle potted his first goal of the game and the season on the doorstep to make it 3-1. In the third period, the Isles held onto the lead as they weathered the pushback from the Red Wings. Eberle sealed the Isles victory 4-1 as he cashed in a rebound during a scramble around the net front.
With the win, the Isles extended their winning streak over Atlantic Division opponents to eight games and improved to 14-0-1 in their last 15 games against the Eastern Conference.
LUCKY NO. 7:
After being scoreless through 14 games this season, the burden was lifted for Eberle who found the back of the net not once, but twice for the Isles.
"Obviously, with the ankle injury I've come back and felt like I've had a ton of chances," Eberle said. "I've had quite a few, but sometimes they don't go in. You get frustrated for sure and start gripping the stick, but all you can really do is keep trying. It's funny how it works like that. You don't score for a while and then you score two."
Following a red hot showing during playoffs where Eberle posted nine points (4G, 5A) through eight playoff games, the right winger had a frustrating start to the season. Returning from an injury that took place so early in the season was challenging enough, but the frustration began to mount for the bonafide playmaker with every passing game he went without a goal. (Eberle was placed on IR on Oct. 12 with a lower-body injury and returned to the lineup on Nov. 9.)
The relief was palpable and Eberle's teammates were just as excited to see him get on the scoresheet.
"The biggest takeaway tonight was seeing Ebs get off to a great start tonight with two goals," Lee said. "I'm really happy for him. He's been gripping it a little bit, but he stayed positive and he's worked his butt off. He deserved a game like this tonight and a couple of bounces. Big credit to him."
Video: NYI@DET: Eberle finds puck, scores from in close
VARLAMOV AND PK PRESERVE WIN:
Semyon Varlamov and the Isles penalty kill were the unsung heroes of the night and largely responsible for preserving what was a fragile 2-1 lead in the second period and 3-1 lead in the third period.
"[Varly was] really strong," Lee said. "Especially tonight. We were in the box a little bit too much tonight, but he saw the puck extremely well. He was kicking them out. When you have Varly and Greiss are behind you and playing like that it gives you a lot of confidence in front. When you do make a mistake, they have you."
Varlamov recorded his eighth win of the season and extended his record to 8-3-2. While the Isles did a solid job of keeping shots to the outside, Varlamov still had his work cut out for him against the pesky Red Wings. The Isles netminder faced a flurry of shots midway through the third period as the Red Wings put forth a desperate push. Varlamov turned away back-to-back chances on a slap shot from the point from Filip Hronek from the point and an attempt down low from Tyler Bertuzzi.
"They've got a lot of skills when they get in the [offensive] zone and they can create a lot there," Ryan Pulock, who had three assists on the night, said. "Obviously, they got some chances and Varly was huge. For a lot of it, we kept them to the outside and we tried to limit those chances."
Video: NYI 4 vs DET 1: Jordan Eberle
The penalty kill was put to the test tonight and put killed off five-of-the-six penalties throughout the night, with Varlamov stopping nine power-play shots. Detroit generated some of its most threatening chances on the power play and seemed to carry momentum over following every man-up opportunity.
"They had like three or four in a row there [in the second period]," Pulock said. "If the PK doesn't do the job it's a different game. I thought that was really big for us."
The Isles close out their two-game road trip and second half of their back-to-back at Montreal tomorrow night at 7 pm at Bell Centre. Montreal has currently lost eight-straight games.
"It's going to be a tough one tomorrow," Lee said. "It's a tough building to play in and they're going to come at us hard. Just to get the first one tonight and take care of business, now we can focus on tomorrow."