Barry Trotz often warns about the NHL's parity and how there are no easy nights in the NHL. Case in point - the Islanders' 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Thursday's matchup pitted the Metropolitan Division's second-seeded Islanders vs the eighth-placed Devils, but it was a feisty Devils squad - 6-2-1 in their last nine games - who emerged with two points. Brock Nelson had given the Isles a 1-0 lead, but a pair of quick goals from PK Subban and Nico Hischier proved to be the difference. The loss snapped the Isles' two-game winning streak and marked a fourth-straight defeat at the Coliseum (0-3-1).
"Tough one for us. We wanted to come out with a good effort at home and get back to winning at home and we weren't able to do that," Nelson said. "A couple of small plays were the difference."
Video: NJD@NYI: Nelson roofs wrist shot from left circle
ISLES HELD TO ONE GOAL IN LOSS:
Offense was hard to come by for the Islanders on Thursday night, as Nelson's 15th of the season - a wicked wrister through Andy Greene's legs and high-glove past MacKenzie Blackwood - was the only Isles' tally that stuck to the scoreboard.
There were a few close chances for the Islanders, as prior to Nelson's icebreaker, Leo Komarov had seemingly found the back of the net a minute into the scoreless middle frame. Instead of an early 1-0 lead, the Devils successfully overturned it on goalie interference challenge. That was the first of two missed chances, as Anders Lee had a chance to put the Isles up 2-0 midway through the second period, but he put Noah Dobson's cross-ice feed off the outside of the post.
The Isles would ultimately rue the two opportunities, as the Devils responded with a pair of quick goals to end the second period and start the third. Subban tied the score 1-1 with a slap shot from the point off an offensive-zone draw at 18:33 of the second, while Hischier curled off the goal line and around Semyon Varlamov at 1:09 of the third. Both plays came off of face-offs.
"Those little plays, those draws, they score two goals, two or three seconds after a face-off," Nelson said. "We'd like to have that back and play it differently. It ends up being the difference."
Video: NJD 2 NYI 1: Brock Nelson
The Isles couldn't muster a tying goal in the final frame and found themselves fending off a spunky Devils team, who rang a pair of shots off the post on a third period power play. Komarov missed setting up a backdoor feed on an odd-man rush, while Blackwood stymied a series of chances with the Isles goalie pulled.
"We have to score more than one goal," Trotz said. "If we have to win that way, we'll have to do it. We had some chances early and we didn't bury it. They hung around and hung around and we didn't take it to the next level unfortunately."
PELECH MISSES GAME:
Adam Pelech missed Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, his first missed game since Jan. 12 of last season.
With Pelech out, Noah Dobson drew back into the lineup, starting the game alongside Ryan Pulock, though Barry Trotz was quick to mix-and-match his defensive pairs from the opening puck drop. There were no immediate updates after the game.
Video: NJD 2 NYI 1: Ryan Pulock
VARLAMOV MAKES THIRD STRAIGHT START:
Semyon Varlamov made his third straight start of the season on Thursday, marking first time this season either Isles' goalie had started three consecutive games.
Varlamov, who entered the contest with a two-game winning streak, was solid, making 29 saves in the loss. His best of the night came early in the first period, stretching across his net to deny a Will Butcher one-timer on a Devils power play.
The Islanders take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Toronto. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.