It took the New York Islanders three games under Lane Lambert to accomplish something on offense they achieved just once in 337 regular season and playoff games under Barry Trotz.
And their three leading scorers have barely gotten in on the goal-scoring fun.
The Islanders will look to continue their suddenly high-scoring ways Thursday night, when they are slated to host the New Jersey Devils in the final game of a season-opening, four-game homestand.
Both teams were off Wednesday after recording wins at home Tuesday night. The Islanders scored all their goals in the final 30 minutes of a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks while the Devils overcame a two-goal, first-period deficit to earn their first win of the season by beating the Anaheim Ducks, 4-2.
New York’s late flurry Tuesday came on the heels of Saturday’s 7-1 win over the Ducks. The Islanders last scored 12 goals in a two-game span from Nov. 13-15, 2018 — early in Trotz’s first season at the helm — when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 and defeated the New York Rangers 7-5.
But the only Islanders players with multiple goals are a trio of defensemen — Noah Dobson, Scott Mayfield and Robin Salo — with two apiece and right winger Oliver Wahlstrom, who has three goals after he seemingly spent much of last season in Trotz’s doghouse.
With the Islanders down 1-0 after the first period Tuesday, Lambert placed Wahlstrom on the same line with Brock Nelson, who led the team with 81 goals the previous three seasons. Wahlstrom scored twice and had the game-winner in the final minute of the second period for New York, whose forwards combined for all five goals.
Anders Lee got the Islanders on the board 10:03 into the second by scoring his first goal of the season. Nelson and Mathew Barzal, whose 51 goals since 2019-20 are New York’s third-most in that span, have yet to score a goal, though they’ve combined for seven assists.
“(The forwards) were the ones that put it in (Tuesday),” Lee said. “But we don’t really care how it goes in as long as we have more at the end of the night.”
The Devils, who began the season with back-to-back 5-2 losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, got off to a discouraging start Tuesday, when the Ducks raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first period despite being limited to just six shots.
But the Devils responded to being booed off the ice in Newark, N.J., by outshooting the Ducks 30-14 over the final 40 minutes. Ondrej Palat, who signed a five-year deal with New Jersey as a free agent in July, scored his first goal with the team 4:17 into the second before Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton and Dawson Mercer all scored within a 19-minute span bridging the last two periods.
“It’s still early in the season and everyone panics a little bit after the first game,” said Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, who made 18 saves. “We didn’t like our game last game, but it was important that we turned the page and do things the right way. I think the guys did a good job.”
–Field Level Media