Brock Nelson believes the New York Islanders passed an important test on Friday.
The next test for Nelson and his teammates awaits almost immediately.
The Islanders will look to complete a back-to-back sweep of division foes on Saturday night when they face the Carolina Hurricanes in Elmont, N.Y.
The Islanders scored four unanswered goals in a span of less than nine minutes bridging the first and second periods Friday night before holding off a late rally by the New Jersey Devils in a 6-4 win in Newark, N.J.
The Hurricanes most recently played on Tuesday, when they continued a six-game trip by falling to the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in overtime.
New York took a 6-2 lead over New Jersey when Cal Clutterbuck scored an unassisted goal a minute into the third period, but the Islanders had to withstand an unrelenting push by the Devils over the final seven-plus minutes.
The Devils, who pulled to 6-3 on Tomas Tatar’s goal 90 seconds after Clutterbuck’s tally, inched closer when Jack Hughes scored with 6:21 remaining, about a minute after goalie Akira Schmid was pulled.
The Islanders, who were down a forward after Anthony Beauvillier exited with an upper-body injury in the first period, didn’t register an official shot in the final 13 minutes but had two shots blocked by Hughes.
New Jersey had three official shots after the goal by Hughes — who played the final 6:02, the longest shift in the NHL since at least the 2009-10 season — but had another two chances ring off the post.
“These ones feel good when you can put together a solid effort on the road,” said Nelson, who scored two goals, including the first of the Islanders’ four unanswered tallies with 4:23 left in the opening period. “It’s (against) a team that’s been obviously at the top of the league from the start of the season.
“I thought that was a good test for us. Kind of have to follow it up now. We’ve got another one (Saturday).”
The Hurricanes, who won the Metropolitan Division last season, have treaded water in the early playoff race during an unusual 13-game stretch in which they’ve gone 6-2-5 while criss-crossing the continent.
Carolina played just three of those 13 games at home while embarking on four road trips. The Hurricanes began their current trek with three wins in three different time zones — over the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings — before the travel seemed to catch up against the Ducks.
“Mentally, you could tell, right from the start of the game, we were not ready to go,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Not from a lack of effort — just the sharpness was not there.”
The Hurricanes overcame a trio of one-goal deficits before Anaheim’s Ryan Strome scored 1:56 into overtime. Carolina had 20 shots in the second period but totaled just 17 in the first and third periods and none in overtime.
“We got back into the game, had a good second period, and then you could see how exhausted we were there in the third,” Brind’Amour said. “We had no jump.”
Following the game on Long Island, the Hurricanes will visit Detroit on Tuesday before they play at home in seven of their next eight games.
–Field Level Media