NEW YORK (AP) — Mathew Barzal scored with less than five minutes left in the third period to push the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Thursday night.
Josh Bailey and Adam Pelech scored and Zach Parise added two assists for the Islanders. Last-place New York extended its point streak to five games (4-0-1). Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves and collected his ninth win of the season.
“It’s huge,” Barzal said. “Everyone knows where we’re at in the standings. We have a lot games in hands, we have to start winning hockey games. … It was a good team win.”
Yegor Sharangovich and Nathan Bastian scored as New Jersey lost for the third time in four games. Jon Gillies made 22 saves in his first start since Dec. 19.
Lane Lambert led the Islanders behind the bench with coach Barry Trotz in COVID-19 protocol. Brock Nelson returned after missing the previous two games.
Andreas Johnsson, Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha returned to the Devils’ lineup after being removed from COVID-19 protocols earlier this week.
Barzal broke a 2-2 tie with a one-time shot from the slot at 15:07 of the third period. Bailey delivered a perfect touch pass to set up the deciding goal.
“It’s been a challenging first 20-something games for us as a group,” Parise said. “Now, we are close to getting a full lineup back. … We are playing some good hockey, we’re finding some different ways to win. Special teams are coming together. We are getting back to that stingy hockey we are comfortable playing.”
Bastian deflected Ty Smith’s shot from the point during a power play to tie it at 2 at 10:25 of the third period.
“We had plenty of opportunities to get the tying goal,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”We played the right way.”
Sharangovich opened the scoring midway through the first period and extended his goal-scoring streak to four games.
“I think we played well, skated well,” Bastian said. “We were right there until the last second. It would have been nice to get a point.”
Prior to puck drop, Devils forward Jack Hughes and Pelech were named NHL All-Stars. They will represent the Metropolitan Division on Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas. Islanders forward Mathew Barzal and Devils forward Jesper Bratt will be on the ballot for the last men in competition where fans vote for the final four skaters from a list of 32 candidates.
Kyle Shapiro, 28, served as an emergency backup goalie for the Devils on Thursday with Mackenzie Blackwood and Akira Schmid in COVID-19 protocols. Shapiro played NCAA Division III hockey at the University of Southern Maine and New England College and is an assistant with the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League. Shapiro became the fourth emergency goalie to join an NHL team this season.
Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri participated in the Islanders’ morning skate but has not been activated from injured reserve. … New York defenseman Ryan Pulock has begun skating on his own since sustaining a lower-body injury in the middle of November, but he was placed in COVID-19 protocol earlier this week.
The Islanders have played just four games since mid-December due to eight coronavirus-related postponements. However, New York will be busy with 10 games in the next 19 days, nine of which will be played at home.
Islanders: Host Washington on Saturday afternoon
Devils: Host Arizona on Wednesday.
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Scott Charles, The Associated Press