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New York Islanders prep for long trip with win vs. New Jersey Devils

By
Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
Ryan Strome scored twice for the Islanders, who received one goal apiece from Ladd and three other players Sunday night as New York prepared for its long trek by holding off the New Jersey Devils, 6-4, at Barclays Center. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Ryan Strome scored twice for the Islanders, who received one goal apiece from Ladd and three other players Sunday night as New York prepared for its long trek by holding off the New Jersey Devils, 6-4, at Barclays Center. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- As a veteran of 10 NHL seasons and the father of three children, Andrew Ladd grinned Sunday night when he was asked what his New York Islanders teammates could expect when a nine-game road trip -- the longest road trip in franchise history -- begins Tuesday night.

"For guys with kids, a little extra sleep," Ladd said. "Some good food. Couple glasses of wine."

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And for the Islanders, nine chances to turn what once looked to be a long road trip into nowhere into a path to the playoffs.

Ryan Strome scored twice for the Islanders, who received one goal apiece from Ladd and three other players Sunday night as New York prepared for its long trek by holding off the New Jersey Devils, 6-4, at Barclays Center.

It was the final game at Barclays Center until March 13 for the Islanders (27-21-10), who temporarily moved into a three-way tie for the final wild card spot with the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers, pending the Bruins' game later against the San Jose Sharks.

"It's nice, I think a lot of people had us written off early in the year," said Ladd, who has scored four goals in his last three games and has collected eight of his 16 goals this season in a 12-game span dating back to Jan. 26. "We still had confidence that we had a pretty good team in here that could do some damage. Took a lot of hard work to get back to where we're at, but we're still fighting for our lives."

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The Islanders had the fewest points in the NHL at the end of Thanksgiving weekend and resided in last place in the Eastern Conference when interim head coach Doug Weight took over for Jack Capuano on Jan. 17.

"The big spiel in my first day in the room, after the first 30 minutes, was, by the end of February, we want to have control of our own fate," said Weight, who has steered the Islanders to a 10-4-2 record. "We're ahead of schedule."

Weight then looked at his watch.

"We'll see how the next two hours go," Weight said. "It's going to be a tough task. We've got a lot of road games."

Weight said he plans to change up the Islanders' pre-game routine on the road, where they are just 7-13-4, in hopes their fortunes mirror those they have enjoyed at home, where New York is 20-8-6 overall and 9-0-2 since Weight became head coach.

"The first thing I planned isn't going to work -- I was going to wear the dark jersey on the road," Weight said with a grin, referring to the color scheme of the Islanders' home uniforms.

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"We've got to change things. We don't have a good feeling, not a good vibe on the road right now, for whatever reason."

The Devils, who beat the Islanders 3-2 at Prudential Center on Saturday, were the first ones to feel good Sunday, when Miles Wood scored 9:15 into the first to give New Jersey the lead.

But the Islanders responded with four unanswered goals -- two by Ryan Strome and one apiece by Ladd and Casey Cizikas -- in a span of 17:26 bridging the first and second.

Kyle Palmieri and Joseph Blandisi scored for the Devils in a span of fewer than five minutes late in the second to close the gap to 4-3, but John Tavares (power play) and Jason Chimera scored 32 seconds apart in the first minute of the third.

"It's a one-goal game going into the third and we give up two right off the bat," Devils defenseman Taylor Hall said. "That really squanders our chance."

Hall scored at 8:37 of the third for the Devils (25-24-10), who were trying to move within two or three points of the second wild card spot.

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"Even though we got down, it didn't break, I think, our toughness, as far as trying to get ourselves back in the game," Devils head coach John Hynes said. "We were able to. We just didn't find a way to get a couple more."

Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube and Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid each had 26 saves. The backups drew the starts a night after New York starter Thomas Greiss and New Jersey no. 1 netminder Cory Schneider opposed one another.

NOTES:

-- The Islanders scratched RW Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), C Shane Prince (upper body) and D Adam Pelech.

-- Only one other NHL team, the Los Angeles Kings, had a nine-game road trip this season (Dec. 13-29).

-- The Devils scratched LW Mike Cammalleri and D Seth Helgeson. It was the second straight healthy scratch for Cammalleri, who had never been a healthy scratch in his 14-year career prior to Saturday.

-- The Devils played the same opponent in a home-and-home back-to-back for the second time this season. New Jersey swept the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 11-12.

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