Nelson, Prince help Islanders beat Maple Leafs 5-1
NEW YORK (AP) — Travis Hamonic got New York off to a fast start, and then Brock Nelson and Shane Prince helped the Islanders pull away in the third period for a big win.
Prince and Nelson each had a goal and an assist, and Casey Cizikas and Josh Bailey also scored to help New York beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 Sunday night to snap a two-game skid.
Hamonic put the Islanders ahead just 1:01 into the game, and Prince and Nelson scored 2:39 apart in the third after the Maple Leafs had pulled within one.
“We had a real good start,” Prince said.” We laid back a little bit there end of the first, into the second.”
Thomas Greiss stopped 33 shots, and Nikolay Kulemin, Nick Leddy and Dennis Seidenberg each had two assists for New York.
“Greiss has been playing really well all year for us,” Prince said. “He made some big saves for us. He kept us in it. He just held off long enough for us to get a couple of insurance goals.”
Jake Gardiner scored for the Maple Leafs and Jhonas Enroth finished with 30 saves. Toronto lost its second straight overall and sixth in a row on the road (0-3-3).
“It’s not the goal scoring. It’s the goals you give up,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said.
After Gardiner scored 50 seconds into the third to pull the Maple Leafs to 2-1, Prince and Nelson scored 2:39 apart to stretch New York’s lead to three.
Prince was the beneficiary of a fortunate carom of the puck off the boards to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead. Enroth misjudged the puck leaving Prince alone in front of the net with the scoring chance.
“Obviously a good bounce. I am just trying to skate hard,” said Prince, who scored in his second straight game after missing the previous five with a lower-body injury. “When you are moving your feet and playing well, good things happen.”
Prince then forced a turnover and had the primary assist on Nelson’s goal. Seidenberg had assists on both goals.
“We have been in so many tight games all season. Getting that cushion helps,” Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey said. “I think there is a level of comfort you can get to when you have a lead. It’s not always the right comfort but we really haven’t had a lead like that this year.”
Bailey capped the scoring in the final minute.
The Islanders honored former fan-favorite Matt Martin with a video tribute during a stoppage in the opening period. It was the first time Martin played against them since signing a four-year, $10 million deal with Toronto in the offseason. Martin played the first 438 games of his career with New York, and is 34th on the franchise’s games played list.
“It was a little odd. You see him on the other side in a different uniform,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “But then when the game starts you don’t really think about it too much.”
Hamonic’s opening goal was the eighth in the last five games for New York defensemen, who have nine goals and 10 assists on the season.
Cizikas got his first of the season, burying a rebound of Clutterbuck’s shot at 7:22 of the first to make it 2-0. Kulemin, who replaced Martin on the Islanders’ fourth line, had assists on each of the first two goals.
Toronto rookie sensation Auston Matthews, the top pick in the 2016 NHL draft, registered four shots in his first career appearance against the Islanders.
Martin and Andrew Ladd got into a skirmish near the end of the second period. Ladd, who signed a seven-year $38.5 million contract with the Islanders in the offseason, has just one assist in nine games.
NOTES: Jaroslav Halak backed up Greiss after he was reportedly put on the trade block. Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, voiced his displeasure on Twitter on Friday. ... The Islanders wore purple jerseys during warmups as part of the NHL Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. ... The Islanders scratched C Mathew Barzal, G Jean-Francois Berube and RW Alan Quine. ... Gardiner scored his first goal of the regular season and is three assists shy of 100 for his career. ... Toronto scratched D Matt Hunwick (lower body), D Frank Corrando and C Peter Holland.
Maple Leafs: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night in the first NHL matchup between Matthews and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid — the last two No. 1 draft picks.
Islanders: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night in the teams’ first meeting since the Lightning eliminated the Islanders in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.