However, as the Islander players and coaches continuously say, this is a different team. Despite being down two men with 2:04 left in the game, and ahead 2-1, the Isles held on to defeat the Devils. The victory was their 17th of the season and 11th of the month.
The Islanders didn't make it easy on themselves in the third period. After outshooting the Devils 26-19 through the first forty minutes and playing competitive hockey game, the Isles allowed New Jersey to swarm them in the final period. New Jersey peppered Jaroslav Halak with 16 shots in the third, while they only recorded two.
"I thought our goalie was excellent," Islander Coach Jack Capuano said after the game. "I thought our goalie played extremely well. They made a push in the second half of the game and in the third. We couldn't respond to it and I give them a lot of credit."
Halak finished the game making 34 saves, including several big saves in the third as the Devils threw all they could at the Islander net minder. Saturday night was not the first time Halak has come up huge for the Islanders, and the goaltender has now recorded nine straight wins.
"I just go game-by-game and try to have fun," Halak said. "And help the guys get two points. I'm glad it happened tonight and it's a different game on Tuesday."
In the waining moments of the game Halak had some big help with the Islanders down two men. The Islanders penalty kill --which finished the night a perfect 4-for-4 -- killed off 55 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time for the Devils and the remaining 1:05 of 5-on-4 power play time.
The Islanders penalty killers got in shot lanes and were able to clear the puck out of the zone. Casey Cizikas was able to seal the win with an empty net goal with five seconds left in the game.
"It's a big situation and those are the kills that you need to win games," Cizikas said about killing the two penalties. "We just did whatever we had to do to win. We got in shot lanes. Jaro came up with the big save and we made timely blocks. When we had the puck on our sticks we got it out."
A game like Saturday's certainly shows the character of a team, especially in a situation like they were in the third period. The Islanders have shown they can win different types of games, and the win over New Jersey was no exception.
"It's a new team. It's got a different attitude, Capuano said, uttering a phrase that has become a mantra for the players and himself. "From top to bottom they're playing extremely hard. They're playing within the team concept and the structure that we need to play, and good things happen. We got good goaltending tonight. We got some fortunate bounces and our penalty kill came up big tonight."