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(Friday, October 4th)
Final Score: NY Islanders 4, New Jersey 3 (SO)
Newark, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Moulson's goal in the sixth round of the shootout propelled the New York Islanders to a 4-3 season-opening win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
Moulson's tally, the only one between both sides during the shootout, halted a five-game losing streak in lid-lifters for the Islanders. Michael Grabner scored twice in regulation for New York before setting up Frans Nielsen's marker early in the third period.
"We didn't play our best but we came away with two points and that's the biggest thing," said Moulson.
Evgeni Nabokov turned in a strong effort between the pipes in the triumph, making 26 saves prior to the shootout and stoning all six New Jersey skaters in the final phase.
Martin Brodeur, beginning his 20th season with the Devils, finished with 23 saves, while Damien Brunner netted his first two goals in a New Jersey uniform in the loss. Michael Ryder also scored for the Devils, who began their 2013-14 campaign with a 3-0 setback in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Both goaltenders were in top form in the shootout, with neither team managing to score over the initial five rounds as Nabokov and the 41-year-old Brodeur each held their ground. Nabokov then turned back Jaromir Jagr with his right pad to begin the sixth, right before Moulson gave New York the two points with a delayed flip of the puck over Brodeur's right arm.
The Islanders didn't take their first lead of the night until just over a minute elapsed in the third period, when Nielsen worked a give-and-go with Grabner in transition that ended with the former finding an opening between Brodeur's pads for a 3-2 edge.
Brunner, signed by New Jersey during the offseason, pulled his new team even at the 7:34 mark. Stationed alone at the left side of the net, the ex-Red Wing lifted a close-range shot with Nabokov on his knees for his second goal of the game.
The Devils killed off a minor penalty to Ryan Carter shortly after, and Brodeur kept the score tied with a diving shoulder save on Pierre-Marc Bouchard on New York's best chance in the final stages of regulation.
"It was like playoff hockey tonight, especially in that third period," said Brodeur.
New Jersey wasted little time in rectifying its scoring woes from the previous night, as Brunner banged home a loose rebound of teammate Dainius Zubrus' shot into an open right side of the net just 2:59 in to give the Devils an early advantage.
The Islanders tied it just over five minutes later, when Grabner split the defense after taking in a centering pass from Travis Hamonic and rifled the puck through the pads of a sprawling Brodeur.
Michael Ryder's goal, a wicked riser over Nabokov's right shoulder from near the left circle, put New Jersey back in front 4:46 into the second period. However, Grabner potted the equalizer once again later in the session, with the speedy wing skating down the right side and beating Brodeur with a wrister 6:17 prior to the second intermission.
The Islanders hadn't prevailed in their first game of the season since a 6-4 decision at Buffalo on Oct. 5, 2007 ... Grabner registered his 11th career multi-goal game and first since a two-goal effort against Florida on April 16 ... Brunner had two goals in a game just once as an NHL rookie with Detroit last season, which came against Vancouver on Feb. 24 ... Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan recorded his first career NHL point with an assist on Nielsen's score ... New Jersey fell to 17-8-6 all-time in home openers.
10/04 23:47:49 ET