New York Islanders 4, New Jersey Devils 3: The Schneider Redemption, starring JG Pageau

The New York Islanders continued their late-season winning ways this afternoon on national TV as they hung on to beat the New Jersey Devils, who made it interesting after falling behind 3-0.

That 3-0 lead was built entirely off goals by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who recorded a natural hat trick for his first one as an Islander. The Devils, shooting on old friend Cory Schneider—making his Islanders debut and playing in and starting his first NHL game in over two years—twice cut the Islanders’ multi-goal lead down to one, but the Islanders held on. Kyle Palmieri’s late insurance goal proved to be the game-winner.

Lineup Notes

Andy Greene made a return to the lineup after taking warmups and not playing in Friday night’s demolition of the New York Rangers, but that was far from the biggest lineup story.

Semyon Varlamov had just played three games in four nights, including a shutout in the third of those games, which came as the second of a back-to-back. Today would have been four in six days, which was too much. And the Islanders played the Devils this afternoon. Put it all together, and it was the perfect recipe for the Isles debut of Cory Schneider.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | NHL Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period: The Pageau Show

Early on, Oliver Wahlstrom took a short pass from Mathew Barzal and lasered it off Daws’ blocker, and Casey Cizikas tried a sneaky good wraparound. And then Andy Greene skated off the point and found Zach Parise near the open side of the net, shooting it off his stick and just missing the net. On the rebound, Parise attempted to bank it off Daws from behind the net. Yet we remained scoreless. In the middle of all that, Schneider made his first save of the game, coming out to the top of his crease to stop Jesper Bratt.

It appeared that Mathew Barzal was about to escape on a breakaway, but play was whistled dead because Noah Dobson got caught retaliating to a cross-check with a cross-check. But they killed it, in part due to a nice pad save by Schneider on Jack Hughes.

The Islanders, after controlling most of the period, finally broke through to earn the game’s first lead. Adam Pelech hit Kyle Palmieri with a nice stretch pass to spring him through the neutral zone. Now on an odd-man rush, Palmieri one-hopped a beautiful saucer pass where Pageau was all alone, and he slid the puck through Daws’ five-hole.

Not long after the goal, Jesper Boqvist took a tripping penalty on Zdeno Chara, and the Islanders converted quickly, with Pageau recording his second goal of the frame. Pageau dug the puck out of the corner into some soft ice to Anders Lee. Lee had time to deke around Damon Severson and to take a shot. It was a bit of a misfire, but the puck came right to Pageau, who slipped toward the net and tapped home the loose puck. Lee had broken his stick just before the goal and ended up in the free space on his way back, Parise’s stick in hand.

That was how the period ended, with the Islanders up 2-0 thanks to Pageau. Also, Nathan Bastian took a beating throughout the period, including blocking a shot with the boot of his right skate. He briefly came out for the second period but went right back to the room.

Second Period: Hats for Pageau

The Devils started the period strong, but Schneider shut the door. One instance saw him get in front of a point shot that Greene deflected with both his stick and his knee. Then, Wahlstrom hit Hughes right after Hughes played the puck. Wahlstrom led with his shoulder, but Hughes planted his leg to push off, and Wahlstrom’s knee went into Hughes’ thigh. It was a clean hit, though.

Hughes skated off the ice gingerly, and PK Subban ambushed Wahlstrom to earn himself two, five, ten, and game misconduct for the instigator. Hughes returned to the bench and took a spin, and then he took a shift, but he couldn’t put any weight on his leg.

Not much happened for the Islanders on their man advantage, but as Andreas Johnsson exited the box, Pageau and Palmieri nearly scored on another odd-man rush just after the Islanders thwarted a potential shorthanded chance.

The Islanders got another power play when Ty Smith broke up an odd-man rush by taking out Barzal’s legs. Off the power play’s first draw, Pageau had time and space but sent the puck wide. Throughout the two minutes, the Islanders moved the puck well, but it looked like they were trying to help Pageau get a hat trick.

Well, it didn’t happen on the power play, but it did happen shortly after. With the broadcast discussing the illustrious career of Isles GM and President Lou Lamoriello—including his time as a high-school math teacher—Palmieri batted a puck into the corner, and Pelech caught it on the bounce, firing from out wide on the goal line . It ricocheted right to Pageau waiting at the crease with a gaping net, earning him a natural hat trick. He even caught a hat right on his stick as he skated back to the bench.

Just 47 seconds later, though, the Devils got on the board. Severson blasted a puck from the point and Boqvist whacked it out of the air. And then the Devils went on the power play due to Cizikas clicking skates with Daws and getting called for goalie interference. The Islanders killed off that penalty without issue, however, and the score remained 3-1 going into the final intermission.

Third Period: A Little Hairy, Like Palmieri

In the first few seconds of the period, Schneider had to make a tough stop on a floater from the point and another one off Hischier’s rebound try. Then he snagged a shot with the glove. He also grabbed a rocket from the point off the stick of Janne Kuokkanen, a shot that may have changed directions off the stick of Palmieri.

The Islanders’ first good chance of the period came when Cizikas threw a shot from the boards that Matt Martin deflected while standing in front of the net. But they failed to convert, and the Devils came back the other way to score on an odd-man rush. Johnsson’s pass was interrupted but only slowed by Anthony Beauvillier, and Tomas Tatar, with space, picked it up and fired from the slot. The Islanders lead shrunk to one goal, 3-2.

In their attempts to re-extend their lead, the Islanders got great chances from Wahlstrom off the rush (two chances) and Palmieri, who put it off Daws’ mask. New Jersey mostly controlled the third period, but Palmieri eventually did give the Isles some insurance. He took a little pass from Pageau and crossed over the blue line into the three Devils, but he found a little space away from Smith and rifled a shot under the arm and over the pad of Daws.

The Devils pulled Daws for the extra attacker and had a bunch of chances in front of Schneider before Hischier picked up the puck and roofed it to make it 4-3. Again New Jersey pulled their goalie, and off the first rush, Dougie Hamilton found Hischier for another near goal that Schneider interrupted with his toe, but the Islanders withstood the danger and won 4-3.

Notes and Thoughts

  • It was Pageau’s second regular-season hat trick; his previous one also came at the Prudential Center when he was with the Ottawa Senators not long before he was traded. He also had two hat tricks—including his four-goal owning of the Rangers—in the playoffs for Ottawa. He also assisted on Palmieri’s goal for a four-point night. Pretty cool that he did it on TNT.
  • Nice to see Palmieri score a goal against his former team, too. With assists on two of Pageau’s goals, he finished the evening with three points.
  • Pelech’s assist on the first goal was his 100th career point. Lots of milestones lately! And he added two more assists. Pageau, Palmieri, and Pelech combined for three goals by themselves, and Lee had the lone assist on Pageau’s second goal, so only four guys scored points, and three of them had at least three each.
  • That was Schneider’s first NHL win since March 6, 2020, pre-pandemic. Good for him. He has been a good soldier for the last couple of seasons, and I’m sure it felt good to beat the team that cut him loose.
  • The Islanders have now won four straight games for the first time all season, including three road games. They also won the season series against the Devils 3-1.
  • The broadcast needled Brendan Burke a few times about slipping up and saying “in Long Island” last week, and it was pretty funny. Both Liam McHugh and Darren Pang got him good.
  • Today’s game featured two of the most experienced NHL head coaches, Barry Trotz and Lindy Ruff. Today was their 38th game against one another, and they entered with a dead-even record (featuring one tie). Trotzy jumps ahead.
  • After the Devils’ second goal, I heard the crowd spelling “DEVILS” like at the end of that episode of Seinfeld. You gotta love it. You also gotta love how many Islanders fans were in attendance.

Up Next

The Islanders continue this road trip by actually hitting the road (and not playing within the metro area). They make stops this week in Dallas, Carolina, and St. Louis, in that order—not the logical order of keeping the games in Dallas and St. Louis on the same swing, but whatever—and it starts Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars. It will start at 8:00 pm ET.

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