HOW IT HAPPENED
Behind two goals from Brock Nelson, the New York Islanders went into New Jersey and defeated the first-place New Jersey Devils 6-4 at Prudential Center in Newark on Friday night. For the Devils, it was just their second regulation loss in 21 games and their fifth loss of the season. Cal Clutterbuck, who left the game and returned with a cage on his helmet, had a goal and an assist for the Isles. Anders Lee and Oliver Wahlstrom also scored, and Mathew Barzal had two assists. Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves.
Vitek Vanecek started for the Devils, but was pulled after allowing 17 shots early in the second period. Akira Schmid entered the game and made 13 saves. Nico Hischier scored the game's first goal on the power-play and Tomas Tatar and Dawson Mercer also found the net. Jack Hughes had a goal and assist and led all skaters in ice time (26:01), played the final 6:02. It is the longest shift since the NHL began tracking the stat in 2009-10.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Brock Nelson had it going all night. The Islanders leader in goals scored twice and is now up to 14 goals on the season. He's been remarkably consistent all-season, having not gone more than one game without registering a point. All 14 goals have come since the team's eighth game of the season on Oct. 28 in Carolina.
"I'm feeling good, just trying to get out there and impact both sides, offensively for sure," Nelson said. "We're trying to take advantage of some more shots and more opportunities 5-on-5 to generate as a line. I felt we did a pretty good job of that."
"He was outstanding tonight, moving his feet," head coach Lane Lambert said. "I thought his skating was great right from the get-go, and that's always the key for Brock. When he's moving, he's doing a great job."
WHAT WENT WRONG
New Jersey pulled their goaltender early - real early, and played 7:33 of the 3rd period with an extra attacker, scoring once and hitting two posts. The Isles got some good reps in playing 6-on-5, a position they hope to find themselves in more throughout the season because it means they have the lead, but their inability to find the net (Lee hit the post) was a bit of a blemish as they couldn't close it out and the Devils had sustained pressure for the majority of time with the goalie pulled.
"I liked the way we played for the most part," Lambert said. "We played eight minutes of 5-on-6 and just didn't find a way to put it in and finish the game. Other than that, I thought we did a lot of really good things."
Anthony Beauvillier left the game in the first period after colliding with the boards; he did not return.
STATS OF THE GAME
Per Eric Hornick in The Skinny, Anders Lee (10) and Brock Nelson (8) are the first Islander teammates with at least eight shots on goal in the same game since Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy (8 each) did so on December 23, 1978. Trottier had six points in the second period to set an NHL record (since tied by Mika Zibanejad). It happened two other times prior to that, so this is only the 4th time in club history.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
Alexander Romanov had another one of his signature hits on Friday, this time leveling Devils forward Miles Wood mid way through the second period. The hit, though clean, and wasn't penalized led to Michael McLeod instigating a fight with Romanov.
“I can’t just let him skate through the four guys and score," Romanov said after the game. ”I never chase some guys, never tried to destroy somebody. Just a clean hit, solid."
The Islanders are back on the ice tonight, wearing their Fisherman inspired Reverse Retro jerseys., at home versus the Carolina Hurricanes at UBS Arena. Face-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM ET.