The New York Islanders ended 2016 with some fireworks in Winnipeg.
The Islanders scored a 6-2 win over the Jets, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the second period before cruising to the New Year's Eve win. In the process, the Islanders improved to 10-0-1 on New Year's Eve.
"For us to finish [the year] out like this was good," head coach Jack Capuano said. "We got some secondary scoring and some timely goals."
Six different Islanders found the back of the net on Saturday, as the Islanders scored at least four goals for the fifth straight game. John Tavares and Ryan Strome each had a goal and an assist, while Thomas Greiss stopped 32-of-34 shots for his third straight win. Overall the Islanders have won four of their last five games.
"The last seven games or so we've played some really good hockey," said Andrew Ladd, who scored against his former team. "We ended up on the wrong side of it in Minnesota, so we wanted to put forth a strong effort here. It's nice to get that win for the break."
The goal rush started on the Islanders first chance of the game, as Nikolay Kulemin chased down his own rebound, split the Jets' defense and beat Connor Hellebuyck at the 6:54 mark. Tavares put the Islanders up 2-0 five-and-a-half minutes later, taking a feed from Josh Bailey and going backhand shelf on Hellebuyck.
The Islanders continued to pour it on in the second period, with Shane Prince burying a Strome feed 2:26 in putting the Isles up 3-0. Strome ended Hellebuyck's night later in the second period, sliding the Islanders fourth goal through Hellebuyck's five-hole. Michael Hutchinson relieved Hellebuyck, who allowed four goals on 15 shots.
The Jets teased a potential comeback with Shawn Matthias' shorthanded goal in the final minute of the second period, but it was not to be. Anders Lee scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season, putting a nifty one-handed redirection past Hutchinson at 8:38 of the third period. Ladd scored 1:40 later putting the Islanders up 6-1 and was greeted by applause from the fans at MTS Centre.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored a power-play goal with 3:05 to play, but by that point the Islanders were already popping New Year's champagne.
"It's great," Ladd said of scoring in Winnipeg. "I appreciate the applause and everything from when I was here too."
The 6-2 score betrayed Greiss' contribution to the win. The Islanders goalie was solid on Saturday, especially early, weathering a Jets surge off the opening draw. He was named the second star of the game for his effort.
"He was really strong at the beginning of the game when we needed him," Lee said. "He was our rock back there that we could rely on and gave us an opportunity to get our legs under us and start our scoring."
The Islanders now have a five-day break before returning to action on Friday night in Colorado.