Tavares, Kulemin score in 3rd as Islanders beat Predators
NEW YORK (AP) — Slowly but surely, the New York Islanders are getting acclimated to their new home.
John Tavares and Nikolay Kulemin scored in the third period and the Islanders held on to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 Thursday night.
Anders Lee and Kyle Okposo scored in the second period to tie the score for the Islanders after they fell behind, and Thomas Greiss finished with 44 saves. Tavares and Lee also had an assist and Mikhail Grabovski added two as New York won its second straight and improved to 2-0-1 in its new Brooklyn home.
“You’ve got to find ways to win,” Tavares said. “You won’t always have your best. We were able to beat one of the best teams in the West. You look at their team. It was a good way to battle back and find a way to win.
“Our crowd has been great. Fans have been great. They have brought energy and passion.”
Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg and James Neal scored for the Predators, who lost for the first time after opening the season 3-0-0. Pekka Rinne had 24 saves.
The game was Nashville’s first at Barclays Center, the Islanders’ new home after spending the franchise’s first 43 years at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Tavares’ goal with 8:11 left in the third period gave the Islanders a 4-2 lead. It was his third in three games at home this season.
Neal pulled the Predators within one less than three minutes later, but they couldn’t get the tying goal past Greiss.
“It was our best game of the year by a mile,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “Worst result.”
Watson opened the scoring 2:14 into the game with an unintended assist from New York defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who redirected the Nashville left winger’s jam shot into the net.
The unassisted goal was the first of the season for Watson. It also highlighted a first period in which the Predators outshot the Islanders 17-7.
Forsberg doubled Nashville’s lead 4:22 into the second period with his second of the season. The sequence began with Neal carrying the puck into the offensive zone and taking a shot that Greiss stopped, but the puck bounced over the New York goalie and Forsberg poked it into the net.
“That’s probably the best game of the four,” Nashville captain Shea Weber said.
Lee made it 2-1 just 40 seconds later with a wrist shot that beat Rinne.
Okposo tied it with a 4-on-4 goal with 8:04 remaining in the second. He corralled a loose puck in the defensive zone and then skated up the ice and outwaited Rinne before whipping a shot into a semi-vacated net.
“It was a broken play,” Okposo said. ”(The puck) hit a skate and I caught it. (I) tried to beat my guy up the ice (and) I just tried to make (Rinne) hesitate a little bit. There’s not a lot of room on the net to shoot at and I was able to get it past him.”
Kulemin stuffed a rebound of a shot by Brock Nelson past Rinne to put the Islanders up 3-2 at 6:42 of the third.
NOTES: Predators C Mike Fisher skated in his 950th NHL game. ... New York D Thomas Hickey and G Jaroslav Halak missed their fourth straight game with upper body injuries. ... The Islanders scratched F Steve Bernier. ... Nashville scratched Anthony Bitetto, Viktor Arvidsson and Victor Bartley. ... The announced attendance was 10,542, which included members of the Italian State Police.