The scored three goals in the first period on Thursday night and held off the New Jersey Devils from there, skating to a 4-1 win at NYCB Live.
Anders Lee scored two goals, while Michael Dal Colle scored the first of his NHL career. The win was the Islanders third straight, 13th in their last 16 games and 1600th in franchise history. The win also improved the Islanders to 58 points, one point back of the Washington Capitals - who they meet Friday - and the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
"One of the things you want to do is pull the life out of them after the first period," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We just played the right way with the lead. We managed it well. We stayed on them… There were no easy exits for them. They had to work to get out. We played four lines… It was a good team win."
ISLES START HOT, SMOTHER DEVILS DEFENSIVELY:
The New York Islanders jumped on the Devils early, scoring three goals on their first five shots to take a 3-0 lead. Lee deflected a Nick Leddy point shot past Mackenzie Blackwood to open the scoring at 5:48, Dal Colle deflected a Scott Mayfield drive at 9:19, while Jordan Eberle sniped top corner for a power-play goal at 15:12.
Lee's two-goal night were his 17th and 18th tallies of the season, moving him two ahead of Brock Nelson (16) for the team lead. Eberle's goal was his fourth in seven games since returning from an upper-body injury on Jan. 5.
The score didn't change in the second period, but the Islanders put on a puck possession clinic from the midpoint on. At one point, the Isles had the Devils pinned in their end for just over three minutes - a sequence Trotz said was likely disheartening even without a goal - and held the Devils without a shot in the final 12:08 of the middle frame. Overall, the Isles outshot the Devils 26-17.
"Guys weren't overextending. Guys were understanding that we can stay fresh and stay on them," Trotz said. "The best finish would be to get a goal, but it's pretty disheartening when you get a couple key players with some long shifts and it takes its toll.
Andy Greene deflected a Damon Severson shot past Robin Lehner (16 saves) to make it 3-1 at 7:07 of the third period, but that's as close as the Devils came. Lee iced the game with an empty-netter for his second of the night at 17:51.
Video: NJD@NYI: Dal Colle tips in first NHL goal
DAL COLLE SCORES FIRST NHL GOAL:
Michael Dal Colle had dreamed about scoring a goal in the NHL since he was four years old. On Thursday night, he achieved it, deflecting a Scott Mayfield point shot past Mackenzie Blackwood.
"It feels awesome. Words can't really describe the feeling," Dal Colle said of his first goal. "You dream of that one as a kid, your whole life. To get that first one was a big monkey off my shoulders and definitely feels good."
Destiny was on Dal Colle's side, as the forward was likely going to be scratched until Tom Kuhnhackl came down with an illness. Regardless, he scored the milestone goal in his 14th career game - and 10th this season and was swarmed by his teammates after, all of whom were excited for the 22-year-old winger.
"We're so happy for him," Lee said. "You could see the smile on his face. All the hard work he's put in to get to this moment, it's an awesome time and we're all really proud of him. He's been such a good player for us since he's come up."
Dal Colle has impressed Trotz with how he's developed the pace of his play from early in training camp through his two recalls this season.
"He's been a good surprise for me since training camp, he's a player that continues to grow," Trotz said before Thursday's game. "I think he has some good confidence, he's got some size and a lot of good things we look for and I think he plays a real consistent game. To me, he's becoming a good young pro and I have no issues with him playing even against top people… I trust that his ability to play the game the right way. He can skate with those people."
Barry Trotz returns to Washington DC for the first time since joining the Islanders this summer when the Isles take on the Capitals on Friday night. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.