Bailey, Nelson lead Islanders to 5-2 win against Jets
NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Bailey scored twice and Brock Nelson added a goal and an assist as the New York Islanders beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 Friday night.
Anders Lee and Cal Clutterbuck also scored, Anthony Beauvillier and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists and Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots in the Islanders’ second win in two nights.
New York’s Barry Trotz became the third coach in NHL history reach 900 wins, joining Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville.
“That’s Hall of Fame career for a Hall of Fame person,” Bailey said of Trotz’s milestone. “It’s a big, big accomplishment and we’re happy for him no question.”
Despite the win, the Islanders are 18 points behind Washington for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“Everything’s obviously better and feels right when you’re winning,” Nelson said. “Nobody is content or happy with where we’re at. You can look back and reflect but it’s not going to change anything. You just have to move forward and try to string some together and see what happens.”
Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler each scored for Winnipeg, which lost for the third time in five games (2-2-1). Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves in his league leading 49th start.
Bailey, who had a goal and an assist Thursday night in a 6-0 win over Columbus, scored his second of the game and restored a two-goal advantage for New York at 7:14 of the third period. He controlled a rebound from Adam Pelech’s slap shot and deposited a backhand into the back of the net to give the Islanders a 4-2 lead.
“He deserved to get the two goals,” Trotz said of Bailey. “His mind is in the right spot. He’s shooting the puck, he’s moving his feet and he’s got that little edge right now.
Clutterbuck had an empty-netter with 4:44 remaining to seal the win.
Wheeler had cut the Jets’ deficit to 3-2 with his eighth of the season 20 seconds into the third. The puck took a funky bounce and deflected off Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield before fluttering across the goal line.
The Islanders took a 3-1 lead after scoring twice in 40 seconds early in the second.
“Obviously very frustrating starting the second period like that,” Ehlers said. “We were watching the puck, it’s as simple as that.”
Bailey buried his own rebound and scored for the second straight game at 1:09.
Moments later, Beauviller made a no-look backhand to Nelson in the slot and Lee gathered the rebound before roofing a shot at 1:49. The Islanders’ captain picked up his 20th goal of the season and sixth in the three games.
“If you look at the goals we gave up, we gave up a couple of rebound goals,” Jets coach Dave Lowry said. “We have to defend harder. It goes to puck management and it goes to details.”
Nelson kicked off the scoring with a one-time blast on the power play as he recorded his 23rd of the season and his fourth goal in as many games at 6:38 of the first. Beauvillier set up his teammate with a cross-ice pass. Noah Dobson also assisted on the goal and extended his point streak to five games. The 22-year-old defenseman has one goal and five power-play assists during this career-high stretch.
Beauvillier, who had three assists Thursday night, had multiple assists in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Connor tied it 1-1 with 3:02 left in the first when he and Nikolaj Ehlers converted a 2-on-none opportunity. Islanders defensemen Pelech and Ryan Pulock both got caught in the offensive zone which led to an equalizer.
Star center Mathew Barzal and veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara both returned to the Islanders’ lineup after missing the previous six games. Both players were injured in a 5-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 26th.
QUIRKY ISLANDERS’ STATS
New York is 18-6-5 when scoring first and are 20-7-3 when scoring three or more goals this season. Since Trotz took over behind the bench at the start of the 2018-19 season, the Islanders are 108-16-14 when they reach or surpass the three goal mark.
Connor leads the Jets in scoring on the road with 39 points (21G, 18A) in 31 games this season. He hasn’t gone consecutive road games without a point and has at least a point in 25 of his 31 road games this season.
PROBLEMS VS. THE EAST
Winnipeg is 6-11-2 against the Eastern Conference this season after playing in an all-Canadian division in the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Jets have 13 games remaining against Eastern Conference opponents this year, including nine on the road in their pursuit of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Islanders: Host Anaheim on Sunday.
Jets: At St. Louis on Sunday.