The Islanders beat the Devils 3-2 in an overtime shootout on Friday night at Barclays Center in a preseason game, the second straight year the two teams have done so in promotion of the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season.
The attendance for the game this year was a disappointing 11,823 and there were vast stretches of empty seats throughout the arena. Part of it could be that last year’s game was a rather dull affair won by the Devils 3-0.
Another part of it and a major problem with hockey at Barclays Center is the way the ice surface is not centered within the arena. In one end, where the visiting teams come out for Nets games, they do not remove one seat, yet in the end with the Geico Atrium, they remove every seat. Last year, the Atrium end was covered by black tarps, and they improved how that end looked by adding five rows of bleachers. It still did not look that aesthetically pleasing and they might have to consider some reconstruction of the Geico Atrium end, which also has the 40/40 club, to make it better.
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said of the win, “It’s nice to score a goal, never heard the horn go off, didn’t know what it was gonna be like. It’s preseason obviously, but nice to come in here and get a win, no question, but more importantly, it was a step in the right direction for some of our young guys.”
On if Barclays Center is starting to feel like home to the Islanders, “It’s a great venue, there is no question it’s a beautiful place. I’m extremely happy for Charles (Wang) and ownership that they were able to do what they had to do. They didn’t get the outcome they wanted in Nassau County, but we know we’re gonna be here at a certain point. It was good to come in preseason and now we have to focus on the (Nassau) Coliseum and our fans there.”
The Islanders came out strong in the game on Friday night, as Ryan Pulock scored 8:21 in. They kept the pressure on, and just a few minutes later caught a break.
Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid could not control a puck, weakly trying to pass it to his two defenseman who were near. The result was that the puck slid off Kinkaid’s stick to the Islanders’ Colin McDonald, who shot the puck into a virtually empty net to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead with 8:28 left in the first.
Devils Head Coach Peter DeBoer was asked how weird that was to see considering all the years they had Martin Brodeur, who handled the puck brilliantly, and he said, “You never saw that too often with Marty, we were spoiled for a long time here. With Kinkaid, I liked his response to it. Everyone’s going to make mistakes, it’s how you respond to it, and he responded the right way, he played a very good game after that.”
The Devils took control in the second period, and started to put some pressure on the Islander net after a meager five-shot effort in the first. Martin Havlat scored on the power play 8:08 into the second to cut the Islanders’ lead to 2-1.
The Devils were once again on the power play early in the third period when Michael Ryder scored 1:51 into the third to tie it at 2.
Both teams did not take many risks the rest of the way, which resulted in a tedious third period that saw a good part of the crowd depart. Those that remained were the enthusiastic fans that hockey is known for, and they saw the Islanders win the shootout on a goal by Brock Nelson.
Capuano said of the ice conditions at Barclays Center, “Everybody started, everybody wanted to talk about the ice conditions, I thought it was a fast-paced game, it’s like anything else, second period got a little chippy, but for the most part, I thought the ice was fine.”
Capuano said of the game, “There’s some things we have to work on. The momentum shifted when we took the penalties. I liked the way they shifted the puck, I like the way their forwards were in constant motion, they put a lot of pressure on us to defend. We started off that way and we weren’t consistent enough on that in the game. Penalty kill is something we have to keep working on.”