Lee scores twice, Isles use 3-goal 1st to beat Devils 4-1
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders are proving to themselves — and the rest of the NHL — that they are legitimate playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Anders Lee scored twice and the Islanders used a three-goal first period to win for the ninth time in 11 games with a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Michael Dal Colle notched his first NHL goal and Jordan Eberle also scored, Nick Leddy had two assists and Robin Lehner made 16 saves to improve to 10-1-0 in his last 11 appearances.
“We just played really good with the lead,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We managed (the game) well, we stayed on them. There were no easy exits for them. We just played four lines. It was a real good team win.”
Andy Greene scored the Devils’ lone goal in their 20th defeat on the road this season. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 22 shots.
Lee opened the scoring after he redirected Leddy’s slap shot from the point past Blackwood at 5:48 of the first period. Leddy has 11 assists over the past 16 games. Eberle picked up the secondary assist.
Dal Colle’s first career goal came at 9:19 of the first on assists from Scott Mayfield and Leo Komarov. Dal Colle, the fifth overall pick from the 2014 draft had struggled to produce in his 10-game NHL stint this season, recording only one assist before Thursday night.
“It’s awesome,” Lee said of Dal Colle’s first goal. “You could see the smile on his face right away. The bench was going nuts. It’s a special moment for him.”
Eberle extended his points streak to three games when he converted on the power play at 15:12 of the first period. He patiently waited at the faceoff circle to the left of Blackwood until an opening presented itself. Eberle has five points in the last seven games since returning to the lineup.
Greene tipped Damon Severson’s shot at 7:07 of the third period to spoil Lehner’s shutout bid. Jesper Bratt also assisted on the play.
“We didn’t have enough bite. We didn’t have close to enough bite,” Devils coach John Hynes said after the team lost for the fifth time in a seven-game span. “When it came to the competitive areas of the game, it was men against boys.”
Lee added an empty-netter at 17:51 of the third period, his team-leading 18th of the season.
The Devils struggled to generate offense throughout most of the contest, recording only 10 shots through the first 40 minutes. New Jersey’s power play woes also continued, failing to connect on two opportunities.
The Islanders improved to 11-6-1 vs. Metropolitan Division opponents this season and will play against the Capitals on Friday, aiming to leapfrog Washington in the standings.
“We have four lines that play good hockey,” Eberle said after his two-point performance. “When everyone is going we are a tough team to beat. That has to be our mantra.”
NOTES: Blake Coleman’s career-high five-game points streak for the Devils was also snapped. ... Thursday’s game marked the first time the Devils visited the Coliseum since Jan. 9, 2015. Only four players from that game remain on New Jersey’s roster (Greene, Keith Kinkaid, Damon Severson and Travis Zajac). ... The Islanders improved to 24-2-1 when scoring at least three goals (including shootouts). ... New York scratched forwards Tom Kuhnackl and Ross Johnston along with defenseman Lucas Sbisa. ... Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... New Jersey forward Miles Wood did not play for the second straight contest due to a lower-body injury.
Devils: Host Anaheim on Saturday.
Islanders: Visit Washington on Friday