Preview: Jets at Islanders
The New York Islanders were pleased with their effort Friday despite a 2-1 opening-night loss to Washington and feel there are plenty of positives to take into Sunday’s home game against the Winnipeg Jets. New goaltender Semyon Varlamov was solid in stopping 26 of 28 shots, defenseman Devon Toews opened his second NHL season with the Islanders goal, and New York committed just two penalties on the night - although one resulted in a Washington power-play tally.
“I think we did some really good things tonight,” Islanders center Anders Lee told reporters postgame. “Regardless of the outcome, we can build off this and get ready to go in a couple of days, and that’s the next important game.” Winnipeg lost its opener Thursday at the New York Rangers and found itself down 4-0 Friday in New Jersey before a furious rally led to a 5-4 shootout triumph. Center Mathieu Perreault and defenseman Neal Pionk each recorded a goal and an assist during the comeback, and forward Blake Wheeler capped the rally with the shootout winner. “We stuck with it,” Perreault told reporters afterward. “We felt like we maybe deserved better last game (the 6-4 loss to the Rangers) and today didn’t go our way in the first two (periods). But we found a way.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, Sportsnet (Winnipeg), MSG Plus (New York)
ABOUT THE JETS (1-1-0): Goaltender Laurent Brossoit, making his season debut one night after Connor Hellebuyck lost to the Rangers, gave up four goals in the first 33:52 before stopping New Jersey from there, finishing with 35 saves. Forward Nikolaj Ehlers recorded an assist Friday after registering three against the Rangers, while center Mark Scheifele has a goal and two assists through two games. Rookie defenseman and 18-year-old Ville Heinola picked up an assist for the second straight game and logged 20:01 of ice time.
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (0-1-0): Varlamov signed a four-year, $20 million deal after eight seasons with Colorado and looked comfortable in his Islanders debut, halting a shorthanded breakaway in the second period to keep the score tied 1-1. Center Brock Nelson led New York with five shots on goal but committed both Islanders penalties, the second leading to T.J. Oshie’s game-winning goal with 2:17 left in the second period. Center Mathew Barzal, who led New York with 44 assists and 62 points a season ago, finished with two shots on goal in 17:42 of ice time.
1. The Jets defense, which remains without Dustin Byfuglien (team suspension), has surrendered 10 goals through two games.
2. Islanders G Thomas Greiss, who went 23-14-2 in 43 games last season, is expected to make his season debut Sunday.
3. The teams split their two meetings last season (each winning on the road), as Winnipeg F Adam Lowry recorded three goals and an assist while Lee scored two goals and added an assist.
PREDICTION: Islanders 4, Jets 3