NEWARK, N.J. – Playing the New Jersey Devils has been a painful experience for New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano, even when he wins.
Capuano missed Brad Boyes’ game-winning, power-play goal at 2:01 of overtime in the Islanders 5-4 win over the Devils on Thursday night because he was back in the locker room getting stitches above his left eye after being hit by a puck late in the third period.
It marked his second mishap against the Devils this season. He missed New York’s 2-1 loss in the season opener entirely while being treated for kidney stones.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Capuano said after the Islanders followed their win over the Penguins with another impressive performance. “I can’t believe my luck. As soon as I came in, I heard the horn go off, meaning they tied it. But I’m glad we hung with it.
“We deserved the win.”
The Islanders can thank their special teams for the win. They were 3 for 4 on the power play and killed off all five extra-man chances for New Jersey, which has now lost three straight in overtime.
Boyes set up his own winner by stealing the puck from Martin Brodeur behind the Devils’ net. John Tavares, who scored twice, got an initial shot on net and Frans Nielsen put the rebound on net that New Jersey defensive Bryce Salvador stopped. Boyes didn’t missed on the follow.
Brodeur felt he made the right decision playing the puck behind the net, but wasn’t sure whether the puck bobbled or someone hit his stick, causing him to lose it.
“After that it was a free-for all,” Brodeur said. “Sal (Salvador) almost had it, too. It’s just one of those plays where I felt I made the right decision and had plenty of time, but it backfired on me.”
Keith Aucoin and Mark Streit also scored for the Islanders, who avenged an opening-night loss to the Devils. Evgeni Nabokov made 28 saves, including a big one on defenceman Marek Zidlicky early on a Devils power play that carried into the overtime.
“We’ve had a lot of fun over the last five games,” Tavares said. “The key is just understanding our team and our game. We know we’re a tough team to go against right now. I was always pretty confident, even though things didn’t go our way.”
Adam Henrique Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Henrik Tallinder tallied for the Devils, who three times rallied to tie it. Brodeur finished with 30 saves.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “We didn’t play well enough to win. We lost the special teams battles. We lost the faceoff battle. I said before, you get what you deserve in this game. We had some opportunities to win, but we didn’t play well enough to earn two points.”
Boyes’ second goal of the season came 14 seconds after Tallinder was sent off.
“A big part of what we do has been special teams, on both sides,” Boyes said. “We’re getting key plays at key times. We have played some good teams in their building and won them. We have to learn and build and keep moving forward.”
Henrique, who missed the first five games while recovering from surgery on his left thumb, came back in style, roofing a loose puck in front past Nabokov to tie the game with 6:10 to play.
Streit had given New York a 4-3 lead a little more than two minutes earlier when his shot from the point was deflected past Brodeur by New Jersey defenceman Adam Larsson, who also was playing in his first game of the season.
The Islanders, who had scored only one goal in each of their last five games with New Jersey, took leads of 2-0 and 3-2 only to see the Devils tie the game at 3-all after two periods.
Tallinder, who did not score a goal last season after missing much of the year with a blood clot in his leg, tied the game at 3 with a shot from above the right circle after the Islanders failed to clear the puck out their zone after sustained pressure.
Tavares, who didn’t score in the first four games, had put New York ahead with his second goal of the night and fourth in the last three games. Nabokov made a save on David Clarkson and Matt Moulson sprung his centre for a breakaway tally that seemed to catch Brodeur a little too far out of his net.
Bernier and Carter had rallied the Devils from a 2-0 deficit with goals in a 3:08 span in the second period.
Bernier put the rebound of Stephen Gionta’s shot just 32 seconds after Keith Aucoin’s power-play goal had stretched the Islanders’ lead to two goals.
Carter tied the game at 2, swatting the rebound of an ankle shot by 30-year-old rookie Matt Anderson, who was playing his second game.
The Islanders, who came into the game converting 30 per cent of their power-play chances, got their first two goals with the extra man.
Tavares hit a wide-open net after Boyes faked a shot and slid the puck to him alone at the side of the net.
Aucoin tallied his fourth of the season, swatting his own rebound past Brodeur after taking a nifty cross-ice pass from the point by defenceman Travis Hamonic.
NOTES: Larsson, the 20-year-old defenceman who was in and out of the Devils’ lineup as a rookie, set up Bernier’s goal with a nice pass from the point to Carter. If there were three assists allowed, he would have gotten the third one. … Anderson played seven seasons in the minors before finally getting the call to the NHL. … Stefan Matteau was given the night off while the Devils decided whether to return him to junior hockey after playing five NHL games. … Devils D Mark Fayne was out with an arm injury. … Islanders RW Colin McDonald served the first game of a two-game suspension for boarding Penguins D Ben Lovejoy on Tuesday. … The Devils and Islanders will play again on Sunday in Uniondale, N.Y. … Former Devils Eric Boulton and Krystofer Barch of New Jersey slugged it out early in the game.