Cizikas scores late in 3rd to lift Islanders past Devils
NEW YORK (AP) In a tight and physical game, the New York Islanders' big fourth line came through to pull out a needed win.
Casey Cizikas scored the go-ahead goal with 2:12 left in the third period to lift the Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Brock Nelson also scored and Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots for the Islanders, who had lost three straight (0-1-2) - including a shootout defeat at New Jersey on Saturday.
On the winning score, Brian Strait sent the puck on goal, and it was tipped by Matt Martin before Cizikas jammed the rebound past Devils goalie Cory Schneider for his second of the season.
The Islanders'' vaunted fourth line of Cizikas, Martin and Cal Clutterbuck has six goals and seven assists this season, after combining for 24 goals and 24 assists a year ago.
''There's a purpose to what we do out there,'' Clutterbuck said. ''The way the league is today there aren't many fourth lines that can't play. Casey and Marty have been together here for years - we're all capable of contributing the way we know how.''
New York grinded out a win while playing without star center John Tavares for the third straight game due to what coach Jack Capuano said was flu-like symptoms.
''They came out being very physical. We wanted to respond,'' Martin said. ''We did a good job of being physical. That's what we need to do. ... We try to play with a lot of energy. When we're on the ice, we bring energy and excitement. We feed off of that energy from the crowd.''
Travis Zajac had the tying power-play goal for the Devils early in the third period and Cory Schneider finished with 33 saves. New Jersey had won six of its previous seven after an 0-3-1 start.
''Disappointing not to get a point? Yeah,'' Devils coach John Hynes said. ''We were in a tight game and we couldn't make enough plays at the end to get two points.''
Zajac tied it at 4:03 of the third. With the Devils on their fourth power play of the game, Kyle Palmieri's shot was blocked and the rebound came to Zajac, who sent it past Halak for his fifth of the season.
''We played pretty well, we created some chances but ... have to find a way to get another one,'' Zajac said.
The Islanders' Steve Bernier had a slap shot with about 5 1/2 minutes left that was gloved by Schneider.
Nelson gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 7:23 of the first period with his third goal of the season. Marek Zidlicky sent in a shot from the top of the left circle that Schneider stopped, but Nelson poked at the puck and it went in off Schneider's blocker.
With all the success the Islanders' fourth line has had, Capuano has made a point of keeping the trio together instead of breaking them up.
''There's just too much continuity with that line,'' he said. ''They know who they are and what their role and responsibility is. Very few times I moved Clutterbuck up last year, but for the most part we've kept those guys where they need to be and they give us great energy.
''They're not going to make the sexy play all the time. They're going to chip pucks in, they're going to grind it out. They're going to give us the big goals, and they're timely goals. Our other lines need to feed off that.''
NOTES: The Islanders debuted their black Brooklyn-themed alternate uniforms that feature four stripes on the sleeves and legs to represent the team's four Stanley Cup titles. New York, in its first season playing at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, will wear the uniforms in 11 more home games. ... Tavares participated in the morning skate but didn't play again. Capuano wasn't sure if he would play Thursday at Montreal. ... In addition to Tavares - who has a team-high 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) - the Islanders scratched LW Taylor Beck and G Jean-Francois Berube. LW Eric Boulton and D Thomas Hickey are out with lower-body injuries. ... RW Jiri Tlusty sat out again for the Devils. He took part in the morning skate but Hynes said ''he's not ready.'' ... New Jersey scratched F Stefan Matteau.