The New York Islanders started their nine-game road trip with an important win on Tuesday night, disposing of the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 at Joe Louis Arena.
Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist on Tuesday, tying his career-high with his 41st point of the season. Calvin de Haan's second period goal held up as the eventual winner, while John Tavares rounded out the scoresheet with the insurance goal in the third period. Thomas Greiss made 26 saves in the win.
"I love the grit," Interim Coach Doug Weight said. "The guys came together and we showed that we were a good road team that was a big win for us."
Video: NYI@DET: Bailey capitalizes on Mrazek's miscue
The win accomplished two things for the Islanders on Tuesday night. The road win stopped a three-game road losing streak, but in the process, the Islanders pushed the Red Wings down the ladder. As of the final horn, the Islanders had 66 points, tied with Boston and Florida for the second wild card, with the Panthers holding the tiebreaker and sitting in the last playoff spot.
"Obviously each game, each points are huge, especially with these teams that you're battling with and trying to create some separation and to climb the ladder," Tavares said. "They're all important, but always a good feeling starting with the first one and get some confidence."
Weight credited the Islanders for grinding out a road win, especially playing with 10 forwards for the third period with Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) and Casey Cizikas (upper body) out. But even with the heart-and-soul forwards out, the Islanders were able to protect their 2-1 lead, with Tavares extending it 3:42 into the final period.
Video: NYI@DET: de Haan's shot bounces into net for PPG
They also managed to stay ahead of the Wings all night, scoring the first goal after allowing the first goal for seven straight games. Bailey opened the scoring, daring Mrazek to throw the puck up the middle of the ice before picking off his pass and tossing the puck into the empty net.
Henrik Zetterberg tied the score with 0.1 seconds to play in the first period, but that didn't faze the Islanders, who retook the lead off de Haan's power-play goal at 10:46 of the second period. De Haan's wrist shot caromed off Petr Mrazek, Xavier Ouellet and back off Mrazek before crossing the line - but they limited the quality chances for the Wings.
Video: NYI@DET: Tavares tallies after Bailey's great play
Former-Islander Frans Nielsen had two of the Wings' best chances in the second period, but Greiss earned his keep for the night, denying a Nielsen backhand on a shorthanded breakaway, as well as a good chance in the slot.
Tavares gave the Islanders some breathing room early in the third period. Bailey jumped up to keep the puck in at the blue line, skated in and dished to the captain for his 22nd goal of the season at 3:42.
"Great play by Bails to get us up by two and after that we were pretty confident," Tavares said. "Good solid win to start the trip."
The Islanders continue their trip on Thursday night when they take on the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.