Wings' mastery of road continues with win over Isles
New York — Back on the road, back in the win column.
Joe Louis Arena hasn’t been all that friendly recently to the Red Wings, but once they go on the road, the victories have been piling up.
Closing out the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule Monday, the Red Wings visited Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the first time and defeated the New York Islanders, 4-2.
Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser scored goals 1 minute, 11 seconds apart midway in the second period, breaking a 1-1 tie and Luke Glendening’s empty-net goal with 45 seconds left sealed the victory.
Petr Mrazek stopped 27 shots to win his seventh consecutive road game.
The Red Wings (25-16-8, 58 points) have won seven of their last eight road games.
“If we weren’t 7-1, who knows where we’d be,” said Brad Richards, who opened the Red Wings’ scoring with a power-play goal. “There was a lot of urgency, a lot of realization we had that good schedule heading into Christmas and we would have to come out of it on the other side and put together a good effort on the road – and we’ve done that.”
The Islanders made things interesting, cutting the lead to 3-2 on Mikhail Grabovski’s goal at 15:12 of the third period.
Grabovski got behind the Red Wings' defense just inside the blue line, came in alone on Mrazek, and beat the goalie cleanly for his seventh goal.
But the Red Wings survived an Islanders final push and held on for the win.
“A bit of an unfortunate bounce that ended up with the breakaway,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “But we’ve been in those situations a lot (one-goal games) and we’re comfortable in them and that’s an important thing.
“You have to continue to win those close games.”
Blashill was pleased with the overall defensive game Monday, containing the offensively explosive Islanders (25-16-6, 56 points) throughout the evening.
“Whenever it looked like it might be dangerous, we made a good play with our stick or we blocked a shot or got our feet in the lane,” Blashill said. “We did a lot of good stuff that way.”
Brock Nelson had the other Islanders' goal.
The Red Wings are off until Feb. 3 when they visit Tampa Bay after the All-Star break.
“It’ll be nice to enjoy some time off,” DeKeyser said.
Stuck in a tied game in which they were controlling play but not getting rewarded, the Red Wings struck for two quick goals.
Shortly after Henrik Zetterberg just missed a goal by hitting the post, the Red Wings converted an Islanders turnover into a 3-on-1 rush.
Zetterberg carried the puck into the zone after the Islanders’ defense misread a pass and found Abdelkader alone — albeit an awkward angle on the side.
Abdelkader’s one-timer rose past goalie Jaroslav Halak, his 14th goal, and the Red Wings had a 2-1 lead at 13:29 of the second period.
It didn’t take long for the Red Wings to extend the lead.
An Islanders outlet pass wound up on DeKeyser’s stick near the middle of the ice.
DeKeyser carried the puck on a rush and lined a shot that Halak stopped, but the rebound caromed straight back to DeKeyser, who lifted the rebound over Halak’s glove at 14:40.
“I had a chance to step up, intercept it, and go the other way,” DeKeyser said. “Fortunately pucks have been going in the net for me.
“We didn’t really give them too many chances. It was different from the other night against Anaheim where we were way too loose. We grinded on them in their zone.”
The Islanders had an opportunity close the deficit to one goal late in the period, but Ryan Strome’s rebound attempt into an open net glanced off Jonathan Ericsson’s stick and safely away from the net.
“The puck bounced our way a little bit at times,” Blashill said. “But getting the two-goal lead helps.”