NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils improved on their surprisingly strong start to the season with a 3-2 win in a shootout against the New York Islanders at Prudential Center on Saturday.
Mike Cammalleri scored the winner, Jacob Josefson also scored in the shootout, John Moore and Bobby Farnham scored their first goal of the season in the first period, and goalie Cory Schneider made 24 saves in his eighth consecutive start.
The Islanders (6-2-3) played without captain John Tavares, who was a late scratch because of an illness and is considered day-to-day. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he didn't know if Tavares would be able to play Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres at Barclays Center.
Tavares, who missed his first game since sustained a season-ending knee injury in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, is the third Islanders player to miss a game with an illness this week. Goalie Jaroslav Halak and forward Ryan Strome did not play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday because they were sick.
"I thought it was best that [Tavares] saw our doctors, get him home, and hopefully he'll be fine," Capuano said.
New Jersey (6-4-1), predicted by many to be at or near the bottom of the NHL standings this season, is 6-1-0 in its past seven games after losing the first four, including the first three in regulation.
The Devils improved to 4-1 in games decided after regulation, including 2-1 in the shootout.
"A lot has been said and written about us this summer, but I don't think we really believed it at all," Schneider said. "The new coaching staff has really got us playing a certain style that suits our personnel. This league, anybody can beat anybody. You look at [the Anaheim Ducks], they're stuck at one win and whoever would have thought that. We're not getting too high on ourselves. We're not satisfied or happy with where we're at. We just have to keep pushing and keep climbing the standings."
The Islanders got special-teams goals from Anders Lee (power play) and Frans Nielsen (shorthanded) in the second period after falling behind 2-0 on the goals by Moore and Farnham.
After allowing the Devils the first six shots on goal within the first five minutes, New York limited New Jersey to 11 the rest of the game. The Islanders held the Devils without a shot in the third period until there were 36 seconds remaining, and finished overtime with a 4-2 shot advantage.
The Islanders were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, running their streak of successful PKs to 26 in a row across eight games.
It wasn't enough to get the Islanders two points. They have a four-game point streak but have lost the past two games in extra time, including 3-2 in overtime to the Hurricanes.
"This is probably the best 50 minutes of hockey that we've played as a group and we didn't get rewarded for the two points," Capuano said. "But if we continue to play like that, we're going to have success as a team."
The Devils had a contrasting point of view. They were thrilled to come away with two points but weren't kidding themselves that this was them at their best.
"We got off to the good start and then I think you have to give the Islanders credit, they're a good team, they have excellent players, they're really well coached and they got their legs going," Devils coach John Hynes said. "Then we played in spurts. We felt we did things we wanted to do and managed the puck and played the way we wanted to play, and there were other times we didn't. You have to give credit to the Islanders also."
Forward Kyle Palmieri said the game felt opposite of how the past two games had gone for the Devils.
They felt they got off to strong starts against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, but were locked in 0-0 games after the first period and eventually wound up giving up the first goal.
New Jersey lost 3-1 to Columbus, but responded to defeat Philadelphia 4-1.
"We kind of lost that hunger a little bit," Palmieri said. "We had our ups and downs, they put a push on, obviously special teams gave them a little momentum. But yeah, for the most part it's grinding out an ugly win and it's two points for us."
Farnham helped the Devils get off to a strong start Saturday with his first two NHL points, including a goal. He was claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and put into the lineup because forward Jiri Tlusty has an upper-body injury.
Farnham had the secondary assist on Moore's goal at 2:51 of the first period and scored on a one-timer from the left circle at 14:36.
"He had a great period, a great game," Schneider said. "He gave us the energy. He really buried that second one."
Farnham played for Hynes the past three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. He had 39 points and 666 penalty minutes in 191 games under Hynes in the AHL.
"It was really exciting," Farnham said. "It was exciting to have the first few shifts to get right there, get on the scoresheet, get a couple bounces. It's more exciting to just get the win. Cammalleri's move there at the end, it was awesome."