ELMONT, NEW YORK - JANUARY 13: Zach Parise #11 of the New York Islanders celebrates a second period goal by Adam Pelech #3 (not shown) against the New Jersey Devils at the UBS Arena on January 13, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

ISLANDERS 3 – DEVILS 2

Mathew Brazal’s game-winning goal with a little less than five minutes to go in the third period was just enough to push the Islanders to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils last night.

While it was just a regular season game, it was a significant one for two teams who have had more than just NHL opponents to deal with this season, as the COVID winter outbreak has badly disrupted both teams schedules.

The Islanders have had nine games postponed due to the virus, including their last four match-ups. Before entertaining the Devils on Thursday night, the Islanders last played a game on New Year’s Day. Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz is still in COVID protocol.

As for the Devils they have also been hit hard by the virus. Andreas Johnsson, Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha all returned to the Devils’ lineup after being removed from COVID-19 protocols earlier this week. Meanwhile, goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is on COVID protocols and did not play on Thursday.

In fact, it was Sharangovich who got things rolling for New Jersey, scoring the first goal of the game on an assist from P.K. Subban and Colton White to give the Devs an early 1-0 lead.

The Islanders tied it on a Josh Bailey power play goal at the end of the period. New York took the lead on Adam Pelech’s first goal of the season with 11:38 to go in the second period.

Late in the third period, Nathan Bastain gave Jersey fans something to get excited about when he knotted the game up on a shot close to center ice off a deflection with 9:35 to go in the period.

That all set it up for Brazel who took a pass near the circle, and slammed it past the outstretched glove of Devils back-up goalie Jon Gillies to give the Islanders the lead for good.

Islanders will skate against Washington on Saturday. The Devils won’t play again until next Wednesday against Arizona at Prudential Center.