Islanders’ undone by penalty kill, fall to Jack Hughes, Devils 5-4 in OT

Islanders Devils Jack Hughes
New Jersey Devils’ Jack Hughes (86) shoots the puck past New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) for a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

ELMONT, N.Y. — Jack Hughes scored 2:19 into overtime, sniping a wrist shot over Ilya Sorokin to lift the New Jersey Devils, who scored four power-play goals in regulation, to a 5-4 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night at UBS Arena. 

The Islanders (2-0-1) managed to salvage a point through Bo Horvat’s second goal of the night with 1:11 left in regulation when he banked a loose puck off sprawled-out Devils goalie Akira Schmid from the left goal line and into the net to tie the game at four apiece. It canceled out Hughes’ go-ahead tally — he recorded four points (two goals, two assists) — 4:30 into the third period following a Pierre Engvall hooking penalty — tapping in a perfectly wired pass from Ondrej Palat right in front of Sorokin’s goal.

“I was just coming in [toward the front of the net] late,” Horvat said of his game-tying goal. “[Kyle Palmieri] made a great play just to throw it on net and that’s usually what happens when you do. It just kind of spit out there and… I just tried to throw it in there. It was a big goal. It’s a big point to get. Obviously we’d like two, but we have to be happy with getting one.”

All four of the Devils’ regulation goals came on the power play, converting four of their five man-advantage opportunities after the Islanders went the first two games of the season without conceding a goal while shorthanded. The four power-play goals were the most yielded by New York at UBS Arena, which opened for the 2021-22 season.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “We had a couple missed assignments and that’s all it takes, that one split-second.”

All four of the Islanders’ regulation goals came at even strength, going 0-for-2 on the power play.

An inability to stay out of the box, however, left Sorokin high and dry for most of the night despite yet another brilliant showing, featuring a pair of showstopping saves that kept the Islanders in it longer than they should have been. He made 33 stops on the night while New Jersey’s Akira Schmid turned away 27 of 31. 

“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” Lambert said. “It ebbs and flows, obviously four [power-play goals allowed] is not good. But we just made a couple of errors and we’ll have to correct them.”

Brock Nelson, who scored twice in the loss, gave the Islanders the lead at the 12:35 mark of the first period when he capped off an odd-man rush with one of his patented writers from the left circle that beat Schmid over his left pad. 

Brock Nelson Islanders
New York Islanders’ Brock Nelson (29) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Sorokin kept the Islanders’ lead intact a little longer than it should have been as the Devils controlled most of the first period with another remarkable save to add to his ever-expanding highlight reel. With 4:31 to go in the period, after loose play saw the Islanders turn the puck over in the neutral zone, Hughes was played in alone on Sorokin. With ample time, the center stopped in front of the crease and faked a forehand move that prompted Sorokin to lunge forward, opening the upper right portion of the net for a backhand finish. 

Hughes did just that, but Sorokin’s glove, while falling, had other ideas as a flash of the leather provided one of the saves of the season just three games in — though it was little consolation for him.

“All I could think of was Hughes’ overtime winner,” Sorokin said after the game.

But with one minute to go in the first period, the Devils tied it up on the power play — an Adam Pelech interference call putting the visitors up a man — when Dougie Hamilton’s one-timed slapshot from between the circles beat Sorokin through his five-hole.  

After facing just 14 shots in a 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night, Sorokin was pelted with 13 Devils shots in the first period alone on Friday. 

On the first shot he faced in the second period — which also came shorthanded after Casey Cizikas took his second penalty of the night with 15 seconds left in the first — he was beaten again, this time by Tyler Toffoli just 21 seconds into the frame when his wrister was roofed over the netminder’s shoulder.

It was the first of four goals between the two sides scored in the first 6:10 of the frame.

Nelson replied for the Islanders just 1:16 later when he was sent in alone on Schmid with the Devils’ defense napping, snapping a wrister through the legs for his second of the night, but penalties continued to derail them. 

Pelech was penalized for the second time just 14 seconds after Nelson’s equalizer. True to form, the Devils made them pay as Jack’s brother Luke Hughes’ point shot beat Sorokin to make it 3-2. 

Less than four minutes later, Horvat equalized again for the Islanders and picked up his first of the season, finishing a tough-angled one-timer from the right goal line off a perfect pass from Noah Dobson. 

The scoring slowed, though Sorokin once again had plenty to say about it. A shot from Jonas Siegenthaler from the point was lost in a forest of bodies in front of Sorokin, who was out of position at his right post. The loose puck slid to Nathan Bastian, who sent a wrister toward the opposite post, but Sorokin somehow stretched his way over to make another remarkable glove save to keep it level going into the third. 

“It’s kind of a broken record when we say how good he is,” Nelson said. “But he goes out there and proves it every night and he’s a gamer and all those saves gave us a chance to win, which is huge for our group.”

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