NEW YORK (AP) — Filip Hronek and Quinn Hughes scored first-period goals and Casey DeSmith made 17 saves as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the New York Islanders 5-2 on Tuesday to complete a sweep of New York-area teams.
Elias Pettersson, Tyler Myers, and Dakota Joshua also scored for the first-place Canucks, who are on a season-long seven-game road trip. Conor Garland added two assists for Vancouver, winners of four of their last five. The Canucks are 11-2-2 since Dec. 5.
“We are a very resilient team,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “This is the consistency of staying with it.”
DeSmith, in his first season with the Canucks after five seasons with Pittsburgh, improved to 7-3-2. He credited his defense for a stellar effort.
“I can’t say enough good things. They were amazing, taking care of the slot, taking care of the puck,” DeSmith said. “That was probably the best game that I’ve been a part of with how well we broke the puck out. We’re hot right now, and it’s fun to see.”
The Islanders, returning home from a 1-2-1 trip to start 2024, didn’t muster much against the Canucks, who are having a renaissance season under Tocchet after missing the playoffs the last three years.
Brock Nelson scored both goals for New York — on the power play at 11:11 of the second after Vancouver had a 3-0 lead — and at 15:15 of the third. Nelson has a team-leading 19 goals this season.
“They are a good team with one of the best offenses in the league,” Nelson said of the potent Vancouver squad. ”You give them opportunities, they are going to make you pay.”
Hronek opened the scoring with his third goal of the season at 16:25 of the first. Hronek rifled a high shot past Ilya Sorokin after Islanders forward Casey Cizikas blocked a shot just inside the blue line and lay crumpled on the ice. Cizikas had to be helped off the ice but did return for two shifts before leaving the game. There was no injury update on the 32-year-old forward after the game.
Hughes made it 2-0 at 18:42 with his 11th goal of the season. The 24-year-old Hughes, who has 51 points overall, fired a shot from the high slot through traffic past Sorokin.
“That was a back-to-back against two very good teams and Jersey is playing well, too,” said Hughes, the Canucks’ captain, on sweeping the metro-area trio. ”We just want to keep climbing the mountain. We’re getting different contributions every game.”
Pettersson made it 3-0 at 10:20 of the second after Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech — playing for the first time since Nov. 24 — was stripped of the puck in front of Sorokin. Pettersson finished off a back-and-forth passing play with J.T. Miller for his 20th goal this season and his third goal in two nights.
Miller leads Vancouver with 55 points, including 19 goals.
“We had a lot of energy in the first period of a back-to-back. The guys were ready to play,” Tocchet added. “To win three games in New York and Jersey, it’s tough to do.”
Myers increased the lead to 4-1 at 17:24 of the second.
Joshua scored an empty-net goal to complete the scoring at 18:32.
“We couldn’t sustain anything. Give them credit,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. ”We just weren’t very good night in terms of moving pucks and playing quickly. As a result, we really didn’t generate a lot.”