ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — John Tavares and Frans Nielsen kept the New York Islanders surging on the road.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild had their first letdown under their new coach.
Nielsen scored twice, Tavares had a goal and an assist and New York beat Minnesota 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Matt Martin also scored for the Islanders, who have won six of eight. Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves as New York improved to 2-0 on a seven-game road trip — its longest of the season.
“It was good for us to get that one early to give us a little bit of confidence on this road trip against a really good team and try to take some of the crowd noise out and get some of the momentum,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We were resilient tonight and played a good game all the way around. It was one of our best games of the season.”
Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves as the Wild lost for the first time in five games under interim coach John Torchetti.
Chris Porter had his fourth goal of the season for Minnesota, which had scored at least five in the four previous games with Torchetti behind the bench.
“It’s a situation you’re coming off a big game, we gave them a day off,” Torchetti said. “We talked about it, resetting, getting ready, but nothing was going our way. We’re not talking, so you’re not going to have the puck support and you’re not going to have puck possession, and we kept trying to do everything 1-on-1.”
New York opened the post-All-Star-break schedule with a home win against the Wild, who later fired coach Mike Yeo. The Islanders have gone 7-3-1 since the All-Star game.
Minnesota fired Yeo after seven consecutive losses but quickly recovered with Torchetti to remain in the playoff hunt. The Wild swept a three-game road trip through Western Canada, beat Chicago 6-1 in Sunday’s Stadium Series game at the University of Minnesota and started Tuesday two points behind Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
But Minnesota is 0-6-3 since the start of 2016 in its permanent home, the Xcel Energy Center.
“I don’t think anybody will be surprised if we don’t pick it up here at home that we probably won’t make it,” Wild forward Jarrett Stoll said of the team’s playoff chances. “That’s the honest truth. We’ve got to pick up our home record, our home game in front of our great fans.”
Nielsen and Tavares made sure New York wouldn’t have any slip-up on the road. Nielsen deflected Tavares’ pass on the power play to make it 2-0 in the first period and added a short-handed, empty-net goal late in the third.
Tavares’ 23rd of the season came on a power play and stood following a replay review that determined Anders Lee did not interfere with Dubnyk.
“It’s huge, especially at the start when we’ll be gone for 11, 12 days here,” said Lee, who had two assists. “We get some momentum against a team that’s playing pretty well, so to get those games going is really important.”
The Islanders were 2 of 5 on the power play, while their NHL-best penalty-kill unit held Minnesota scoreless in five opportunities with the man advantage.
Porter, a healthy scratch in eight of the previous nine games, became the 14th Wild player to score in five games under Torchetti.
NOTES: Porter was in the lineup after Jason Zucker was scratched with an upper-body injury. Zucker was injured during Sunday’s game after taking a high hit from Chicago D Michal Rozsival and appearing to hit his head on the ice. Torchetti said Zucker doesn’t have a concussion. … Tavares has eight goals and 10 assists in the past 13 games. … Islanders rookie D Ryan Pulock, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2013, was scratched after being recalled from AHL Bridgeport to replace Calvin DeHaan. Pulock is waiting to make his NHL debut. … Mikhail Grabovski was scratched with an upper-body injury, the first game he’s missed this season.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)