Alexander Romanov’s thunderous strike helped the Islanders achieve their most impressive victory of the season

NEWARK, NJ – It’s one of the most used phrases in all of hockey, uttered in locker rooms countless times over the course of a season. When one team loses a key piece or two, that’s how it goes, the others need to “move on”.

Now the Islanders are still missing arguably their most important defensive player, as Adam Bellick was unable to play in Friday’s game in New Jersey due to what appears to be a head injury. It’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll be out. And in a thrilling 6-4 win over the Devils, Alexander Romanov was a designated player who stepped up on the blue line in Bilik’s absence.

But it wasn’t just a symbolic meaning.

Romanov centered on Devils forward Miles Wood and hit the biggest thundering hit an Islander player has hit of the season, as Wood lifted off his skates and settled on the ice in the second half with the Islanders leading 4-2. It came at an important time, too, as the Devils scored their second goal with about six minutes to go, and the game looked like it might become some kind of track meet – something that would favor the speedy Devils, who beat opponent after opponent on their way to the second-best ice hockey record.

Wood shook on the play, possibly from a sprint hit into a brick wall which is the 6-foot-1, 215-pound solid defenseman. No longer.

The Islanders didn’t score in the ensuing power play after Michael McLeod Romanoff jumped right after the hit, getting two more minutes to pit, but allowing them to regain momentum. A few minutes later, Alexander Holtz got a small hold and Brooke Nelson regained his team’s three-goal cushion with two of his two goals on the night.

Did Romanov’s strike affect the match?

How not? said Cal Clutterback, who has had more hits than anyone else in league history, who also scored on Friday even though he had to miss one in the first period after getting a bloody nose from what he said was the back of the head from a player. An opponent who chose not to be identified.

Clutterbuck continued, “I think with a team that likes to run offensively through the middle and in and out, it might make you think twice about doing it, especially with your head down.”

Romanov, who caught a pair of assists in a season-high 24:45 of ice time, also gave his view on the play.

“Clean hit,” he said. “I can’t let him skate between the four guys and score… I never try to destroy anyone, it’s just a clean hit.”

Len Lambert agreed that it was “a clean hit. It got us off the bench, for sure. I thought the atmosphere at the game was great. The crowd was great. It was a good hockey game.”

Considering the factors, Friday’s win was almost certainly the Islanders’ biggest win of the season. The first-place Devils went in with an 18-1-1 mark in their last 20 games, while the Islanders were not only without Bilik, but Anthony Beauvilliers as well, after he left the game in the first half of going up to the end. wall and injuring what appeared to be his left arm or shoulder. Lambert did not refresh Beauvilliers’ health after the match, as is customary. Kyle Palmieri (upper body) also stays out.

It meant Ruben Salo tied for the first time since Oct. 20, and there was no doubt that the Devils would test the Islanders, who skated them in their first meeting at UBS Arena at 4-1. ultimate. The islanders remembered it well, and with Bellick out, they knew what kind of test they were in for.

“The first time we played we didn’t really know what to expect,” said Zach Parise. They were buzzing around us. Tonight we knew we had to skate, and we did a good job.”

The second period – before and after Romanov’s injury – was the difference. After the Islanders grabbed a half-time lead with goals from Nelson and Anders Lee, they extended their lead by just 34 seconds when Casey Cizikas and Oliver Wallstrom scored, chasing away goalkeeper Vitek Vanicek.

Dawson-Mercer brought the Devils back within two minutes about six minutes into the second, and had plenty of time to continue coming back, before Romanov had second thoughts.

The game was notable for Romanov as well, as he struggled in the Islanders’ previous game on Tuesday against St. Louis. He was on the ice for the Blues’ first three goals in what was ultimately a 7-4 loss, failing to stop a pair of two-on-one rushes that ended up as goals and then giving Ryan O’Reilly two narrow chances, the second of which pushed the Blues captain past Elijah. Sorokin.

Friday’s game was the ninth straight that Romanov skated primarily with Scott Mayfield, after starting the season alongside Noah Dobson. This is a pair that will be vital, especially if Bellick stays out.

Despite the sloppy performance against the Blues, Lambert indicated that he was happy with the Romanovs’ game.

“I think it was pretty good,” he said, speaking before the puck went down with the Devils. “Obviously (on Tuesday) he had a game where he had some negatives, but overall if you look at the last eight games since we made the switch, I think his game has been very solid.”

Clutterbuck said, “He’s been consistent. I love how aggressive he is; sometimes a little too much. He’s a little kid. I just love his getting up and his skill at playing. He’s a player.”

The Romanov-Mayfield duo also saw plenty of ice time late in the third period, as the Devils played with their goalie for nearly the final eight minutes of regulation, making things a little more interesting on a Jack Hughes goal at 13:39. In the final two minutes and 18 seconds, Romanov and Mayfield stayed on the ice for it all, helping make sure the Devils didn’t come close.

The Islanders’ schedule won’t get any easier in the near term, with a visit to Carolina on Saturday and a visit to league-leading Boston on Tuesday. According to Paris, starting the difficult stage with a win, while still holding some important pieces, is promising.

“It’s a team that’s been playing great hockey. It’s hard to compare (the wins), but I think with all things considered, it was probably one of the biggest,” he said. “Not only that, having a really tough set of matches, and it’s good for us to get those first ones.”

“I thought strictly five out of five that we did a very good job,” said Lambert. “It’s very encouraging. We just have to get people to step up, and I think the guys have done that.”

One person in particular.

(Photo by Alexander Romanov and Thomas Tatar: Ed Mulholland/USA Today)

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