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Lee, Cizikas lead Islanders to 6-3 win over Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas each had a goal and an assist, and the New York Islanders beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-3 Wednesday night.

Matt Martin, Matthew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Zach Parise also scored for the Islanders, and Cal Clutterbuck had two assists. Ilya Sorokin made 34 saves in New York's first game since Feb. 2.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Elias Petterson and Luke Schenn had goals for the Canucks. Jaroslav Halak was pulled late in the first period after giving up five goals on 12 shots. Thatcher Demko stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced.

The Canucks, coming off a 5-1 victory over Arizona on Tuesday, were sluggish and sloppy to start the game and surrendered three goals in a 31-second span early in the first period.

It was a "massive" first period for the Islanders, Barzal said.

"Any time you get three in the first four minutes, especially after a tough loss in Seattle and coming back from the break, we knew we had to start hot and get going and just to get a good lead like that was nice," he said.

Vancouver, which was down 5-0 when it switched from Halak to Demko, rallied in the second and pulled within two goals but couldn't dig itself out from the early hole.

The start was "inexcusable," said defenseman Luke Schenn.

"They came out hard, they were flying, they were at another gear. We were on our heels, they were on their toes and they were all over us and obviously they capitalized on their opportunities, too," he said. "And before you know it, it was bang, bang, bang and in the net. And we're chasing the game from there."

Ekman-Larsson gave the Canucks a glimmer of hope with less than two minutes to go in the first. He picked up a loose puck and fired it past Sorokin stick side to get Vancouver on the scoreboard.

Pettersson made it 5-2 with just under seven minutes remaining in the second as he got a pass from Vasily Podkolzin below the goal line, muscled his way to the top of the crease and forced a shot behind Sorokin's skate for his 13th of the season.

Schenn brought Vancouver within two 91 seconds later with a drive from inside the blue line that squeaked through Sorokin's pads.

"It's sometimes harder being up 5-0 in the first period," Barzal said. "You know you're just gonna see heavy pressure the entire night and Sorokin made some big saves, so it was a good game for us to get back on track."

Cizikas sealed the win with 5:41 left in the third, chasing down Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers deep in Vancouver territory and picking his pocket. The center pulled up just before the goal line and sent a pass to Martin at the top of the crease. He beat Demko clean with his second goal of the season to make it 6-3.

"The message is that you've got to get comfortable when the games are tight," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "Today we got off to a quick lead and then it started tightening up a little bit and then we became comfortable again. I liked the demeanor on the bench and I liked our commitment level."

Vancouver's first period was a mess, with the home team struggling to get out of its own end and gifting New York scoring chances.

Parise was first on the board, jamming a shot through Halak's pads 3:25 in. Nelson followed 18 seconds later, tipping in a shot from Adam Pelech inside the blue line. Lee made it 3-0 another 13 seconds later when Ryan Pulock's long shot from the right point deflected off his skate in front and past Halak.

Cizikas made it 4-0 with 6:49 left in the opening period as he got a pass from Anthony Beauvillier and fired it over Halak's pad.

Boos rained down 3:08 later as Barzal sent a backhand top shelf and in off a breakaway to put the Islanders up 5-0. That ended Halak's night against his former team.

It marked the first time the Islanders scored five goals in the first period since March 3, 1996, when they lost 7-5 to Winnipeg.

In the dressing room during the first intermission, Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau was frank with his team.

"I basically said, `I don't care what the score is. But we have to learn how to play better and we want to win the second period. And if we win the period by enough to even think about winning the game, then we'll worry about the third period. But we can't continue playing basically like we're playing,'" he said.

"And I think they got the message and played a really good second period. Just when you give up five goals against the New York Islanders, you're not going to catch them."

NOTES: Vancouver went 0 for 2 on the power play. New York was scoreless on its lone man advantage. ... It was the first time the teams faced off since March 10, 2020, in their final game before the season was interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UP NEXT

Islanders: At Edmonton on Friday night in the second of a four-game trip.

Canucks: Host Toronto on Saturday night to finish a three-game homestand.

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Updated February 10, 2022

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