Wild can’t slow down hot Isles
Thomas Greiss made some big saves, rookie Devon Toews got a power-play goal right after Minnesota tied the score, and Anders Lee dove to block a shot with his head late in the game. The Islanders used a strong team effort to get another win.
Toews scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, Greiss stopped 26 shots and the Islanders beat the Wild, 2-1, on Sunday in Brooklyn.
“That’s a sign of our team, how we battle, how hard we work,” Greiss said. “Everybody is just doing their job and doing everything they can.”
Anthony Beauvillier also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders, who won for the fourth time in five games and ninth in 12 (9-1-2) to increase their lead to five points over second-place Washington. The Islanders, who beat Colorado, 4-3, in overtime Saturday, improved to 15-2-1 in back-to-back games, including 9-0-0 on the back end.
“You have to have a winning commitment,” coach Barry Trotz said. “The whole group has been all-in all year, and we’ve been able to put a few wins together.”
Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild, which lost for the fifth time in six games (13-2). Devan Dubnyk, starting for the second straight game after facing just 18 shots in a 4-2 victory at the Devils on Saturday, picked up 32 saves.
Minnesota pressed for the tying goal in the third, outshooting the Islanders 12-9 in the period after totaling just 15 shots over the first 40 minutes. Greiss collected four saves in close on one Wild power play in the middle of the period, stopping a tip by Eric Staal, a shot by Jason Zucker and two more tries by Staal.
With just over a minute left, Lee used his helmet to block a shot by Ryan Suter as the Wild was scrambling to help preserve the win.
“Huge commitment at the end,” Trotz said. “Guys are blocking shots with their legs, their ankles, their head. You name it, they’re getting in the way.”
Greiss improved to 4-0-1 in his last five games, giving up just three goals on 157 shots in the stretch. His lone loss was 1-0 in a shootout against Tampa Bay at the Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 1.
“Just working on my game all season long,” Greiss said. “Guys in front of me are playing well, everybody is doing their job and it shows out there.”
The Islanders finished 1 for 6 on the power play, and the Wild was 1 for 3.
“We never want to end up killing that many penalties,” Dubnyk said. “It’s tough to keep them out and that’s a lot of time you’re not able to be at the other end trying to score.”
Granlund tied the score, 1-1, with a power-play goal 38 seconds into the second period. A rebound of Staal’s shot came out to Zucker on the right side and as Greiss came out to cut off his angle, Zucker sent the puck across to the left, where Granlund put it into the open net for his 13th.
However, Anthony Bitetto was whistled for holding a minute later to put the Islanders on the power play, and Toews regained their lead at 2:01 with a one-timer from the left slot off a pass from Ryan Pulock.
“We get the momentum and all of a sudden it’s turned right around,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When you take six (penalties), that puts a lot of strain on certain individuals that are playing. It makes it difficult.”