When the two worst teams in the NHL battle, one might expect there’d be a tight, hard-fought contest.
As it turned out Thursday night in Newark, the New York Islanders cruised past the New Jersey Devils 5-1, spoiling the return once again to the New Jersey bench of Jacques Lemaire.
The former Canadiens player and two-time Devils coach, started his third stint in New Jersey as head coach following the firing of John MacLean.
While struggling themselves most of this season to date, the Islanders (8-18-6, 22 points) won for the second night in a row (2-1 OT win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday), as Josh Bailey tallied a pair of goals.
“There is one thing that we can take care of and that is we are going to work,” Lemaire commented to the Associated Press afterward. “I felt and I could see that it was hard because they had something else, that (look of) defeat that they have right now. I am not a psychologist but I can see things, I feel things. I could feel it.”
New York (3-0-1 in its last four games), which was tied for the worst record with New Jersey, tallied three goals in the opening 11 minutes with Bailey getting the first two and John Tavares adding the third. Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau also registered goals for New York, with Dwayne Roloson notching 34 saves.
“We knew about the change and we were just going to try to weather the storm,” Bailey commented to the AP. “We’ve been focusing on what we need to do to be successful and getting a couple of early goals and having a good first period really helped out.”
“Josh (called up from Bridgeport of the AHL) has been excellent since he got back,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano added. “He went down there with the right attitude and did the things we asked him to do. What we wanted him to do was have his game carry over when we brought him back and the last two nights he has done that.”
It was the fourth straight defeat for the Devils (9-23-2 — 20 points) and the ninth in their last 10 games.
With the win, New York now has a few days off to enjoy the Christmas holiday before returning to Nassau Coliseum on Sunday night to host the Montreal Canadiens.
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Written by Dave Thomas