The NY Islanders took down the Arizona Coyotes in a defensive, 1-0 win in their second straight game at UBS Arena to begin the 2023-24 season. Mat Barzal scored the game's only goal off a one-timer on the power play to beat Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka, who faced 34 Islanders' shots and saved 33. Ilya Sorokin did not have much of a workload in the shutout victory, stopping all 14 shots he faced. The offense did a great job at pinning Arizona in their own zone, preventing them from gaining any flow in the transition game, but they still had trouble finishing when the opportunities were there.
The New Jersey Devils are coming off their first regulation loss of the season against the reigning Stanley Cup Final runner-up Florida Panthers by a 4-3 final score. The Panthers went up 4-0 on the Devils early in the third period, highlighted by two goals from Sam Reinhart. New Jersey tried to rally back throughout the final period, coming within one score and getting goals from Erik Haula, Michael McLeod, and Jesper Bratt. Vitek Vanicek started in goal for the Devils, stopping 26 of the 30 shots he saw.
In 2022-23, the blue and orange won two out of three matchups against the red and black. Their most recent matchup saw the Islanders win 5-1 late in March as playoff season rolled around the corner, making it a huge win for New York. Kyle Palmieri scored two goals, including the game-winner against his former team, along with Zach Parise notching the empty netter. Bo Horvat and Pierre Engvall also scored in the win. In the middle of the season, the Isles survived a 6-4 offensive battle in New Jersey, with Brock Nelson scoring two goals for New York and the game-winner on the power play. Their only loss against the Devils last season came exactly one year ago today in a dominating 4-1 effort by New Jersey at UBS Arena. The Devils peppered Sorokin with 42 shots throughout the game, and the Isles only mustered 17 of their own.
Players to Watch
Bo Horvat, although not on the scoresheet yet, has played a strong first two games this season for New York. He is very reliable on the faceoff dot, winning more than he's lost at a 61.9% clip. He has eight shots in two games, which is the most of anybody on the team to start the year. Most importantly, he has been a "dawg" at the end of both games to help close out the Isles' wins, playing strong in the defensive end and having some crucial clears out of the zone with tenacious forechecking following them. Horvat needs to get on the scoresheet soon and will look to do so against the team that finished in 3rd place in the entire league last season.
Jack Hughes is a player that all teams will have trouble stopping this season, and many have him as an MVP candidate at the end of the year, including high praise from The Great One himself. Hughes finished last season with 43 goals and 99 points, helping the Devils get to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and win against the New York Rangers in a seven-game first-round series. Hughes is as fast, skilled, and as good a finisher as anyone will find at the highest level. He and New Jersey will look to grab their second win of the season in their short trip to Long Island.
Mat Barzal-Bo Horvat-Simon Holstrom
Pierre Engvall-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Hudson Fasching
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech-Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov-Ryan Pulock
Samuel Bolduc-Sebastian Aho
Tyler Toffoli-Jack Hughes-Timo Meier
Ondrej Palat-Nico Hischier-Jesper Bratt
Dawson Mercer-Michael McLeod-Alexander Holtz
?-Curtis Lazar-Nathan Bastian