DETROIT (AP) The New York Islanders need to turn around their lackluster rate of success on the road to rally into the NHL playoffs. At the start of a nine-game road trip, they skated in the right direction.
Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.
The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, started the day tied with Dallas for the fewest points on the road with a 7-18-4 record.
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”It’s huge to win this game,” said New York coach Doug Weight acknowledged. ”We got two tough tests coming. We got Montreal and Columbus. It doesn’t get easy. Detroit just won two in a row against the best two teams in the league.”
The Red Wings, coming off wins at Pittsburgh and against Washington, went into their bye week with the expectation the franchise will try to trade players because it has a slim chance of extending a playoff streak to 26.
”We know it’s going to be tough one, but we still believe in here at least,” Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said.
De Haan’s shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender’s left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.
New York’s Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, matching his career high of 41 points set two years ago. Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots.
Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.
Mrazek made a mistake late in the first period and New York took advantage. He played the puck from behind the net, passing it to his left right onto Bailey’s stick to set up the game’s first goal.
”Obviously, there’s a lot of luck involved there,” Bailey said. ”I was staying on the wall hoping that he would throw it down the middle and I could get to it, but he fanned on it a little and that’s how I got it. We were laughing on the bench because I had to wait for Anders (Lee) to get out of my way so that I could shoot.
The Red Wings tied it with one-tenth of a second left in the first on Zetterberg’s goal on the power play for the NHL’s worst team with an extra skater off a faceoff with 3.2 seconds left. Detroit’s Fran Nielsen won the draw against Tavares, a former teammate, and Thomas Vanek pushed the puck to his right to assist Zetterberg on the tying goal.
Tavares, who was stopped by a spectacular, sprawling save in the second period, scored in the third period just to the left of the right circle off a slick pass from Bailey as he skated into the left circle.
”This is the solid start we needed for the road trip,” Tavares said. ”We know that we’ve got to climb the ladder during this trip, and we also need to put some space between us and the teams behind us.”
NOTES: New York F Cal Clutterbuck returned after a nine-game absence because of a lower-body injury and was unable to finish the game because he aggravated his ailment. ”It’s precautionary,” Weight insisted. … Islanders C Casey Cizikas skated off the ice and went to his team’s dressing room after appearing to injure his left hand and didn’t return. Weight said Cizikas would be evaluated Wednesday. … New York D Travis Hamonic (lower body) is nearing his return after being out for more than a month. … Detroit G Jimmy Howard, who has been out for nearly two months with a knee injury, said he does not know when he will be cleared to make another rehab appearance for the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. … Detroit’s backup goalie, Jared Coreau, is expected to play for the Griffins this week. … Weight, who is from Michigan, said he skated with the team during the morning skate because it was his last scheduled visit to Joe Louis Arena, which will be replaced by a new arena next season.
Islanders: Play Thursday night at Montreal.
Red Wings: Idle until returning from bye Feb. 28 at Vancouver.