Islanders spread wealth in victory over Canucks
NEW YORK — Figuring out which hot hand to play in net is a problem New York Islanders coach Doug Weight is glad to ponder, especially because it’s coming in conjunction with Islanders opponents being forced to figure out how to slow down a red-hot team spreading the goal-scoring wealth.
Five players scored Tuesday night for the Islanders, who earned their fourth straight win by cruising past the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 at Barclays Center.
Eleven players have accounted for the 16 goals produced by the Islanders (15-7-2) during their winning streak. The scoring has been so evenly spread out that New York’s top two scorers, John Tavares and Josh Bailey, have only one goal apiece in the last four games.
“They’re a good team — they create a lot with their speed and their skill and their defense being a part of the attack,” Canucks coach Travis Green said.
Such well-distributed offense is nothing new for the Islanders, who have had five goal-scorers in five games this season and has received goals from at least three different players in 15 games.
“I think we’ve had balanced scoring right from the get-go,” said Islanders winger Andrew Ladd, who opened the scoring with a short-handed breakaway goal 5:23 into the first period. “Any time that you’re getting contributions from all (parts) of your lineup, it helps.”
Thomas Vanek scored 62 seconds after Ladd, but the Islanders took the lead for good when second-line defenseman Calvin de Haan and Jordan Eberle scored exactly a minute apart late in the first. Eberle, who has a team-high three goals during the winning streak, collected his 400th career point with Tuesday’s goal.
“Any time you score goals, you’re going to feel good,” Eberle said. “Our line’s really starting to click. I think we’re even creating more chances, and when you have two lines that are really, really dangerous and (for) teams to key on, it’s tough for teams to defend that. We seem to have that.”
Anders Lee extended the Islanders’ lead to 4-1 only 3:46 into the second period and Tavares finished the night by scoring with 6:25 left in the third.
“Night in and night out, you’re going to need different guys to step up,” Ladd said.
The same is proving true in net, where Jaroslav Halak (23 saves) earned his second straight win while possibly staking a claim to a larger percentage of a time share with Thomas Greiss. Halak has allowed only three goals in the last two games after surrendering 13 goals in his first three starts of the month.
Greiss has done nothing to lose playing time — he earned the first two victories of the winning streak, has won his last five starts and is 6-0-1 in November — but Weight hinted Halak would be in the pipes again when the Islanders host the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Halak recorded 31 saves in New York’s 2-1 win over Ottawa on Saturday.
“I trust both of them, we trust both of them, like both of them, and they want to compete with each other and they both want the net, so it’s all healthy,” Weight said of Greiss and Halak, each of whom have made 12 starts this season. “They’re battling, making the big saves at the key time. And Jaro’s done that the last two games. So he’s probably made that decision a little harder, I guess.”
Bo Horvat scored in the second period for the Canucks (11-10-4), who have lost three straight (0-2-1) — all on the road — and five of seven (2-3-2).
“We had some guys that looked a little tired tonight,” Green said. “And when you don’t play quick, you don’t put yourself in position to defend. You don’t take away time and space.”
Goalie Anders Nilsson made 31 saves.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched C Casey Cizikas (lower body) as well as D Ryan Pulock and D Dennis Seidenberg. ... The Islanders improved to 8-0-2 at home this season. New York’s previous best home start during the overtime loss era was in 2001-02, when it opened 4-0-1-1 (wins-losses-ties-overtime losses). ... The Canucks scratched D Erik Gudbranson (upper body) as well as D Alex Biega and RW Nikolay Goldobin. ... Canucks G Anders Nilsson, who began his NHL career by playing 23 games for the Islanders from 2011-14, fell to 0-3-0 against his former club. He’s given up 13 goals on 78 shots.