- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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What it means: The Islanders picked up their first win of the preseason with a 5-3 win over the Devils in Newark, N.J., on Thursday. Josh Bailey picked up where he left off after a strong finish to the 2013 season, notching two shorthanded goals in the first period. Ex-Devil Eric Boulton scored against his former team, while Devils rookie defenseman Jon Merrill finished with a goal and an assist in his Devils debut.
Double duty: Bailey tallied not one, but two shorthanded goals -- only two less than he's had in the past five seasons combined -- in the first period. The first was set up by a nice feed form linemate Kyle Okposo at 6:55. Bailey scored again, capitalizing on a Devils miscue to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead later in the period.
Dazzling debut: Merrill was impressive in his first preseason game as a New Jersey Devil, finishing the night with a goal and an assist. Merill unleashed a bomb that was deflected into the goal by Rostislav Olesz in the first period. He then slid one through traffic to beat Isles goaltender Kevin Poulin in the next frame to pull the Devils within a goal, 4-3. The 21-year-old Merrill is competing for a spot on the Devils’ blue line along with fellow youngsters Eric Gelinas and Alexander Urbom.
Clowe sidelined: Devils forward Ryane Clowe left the game in the first period with a “lower-body injury,” according to the team. He did not return. The 30-year-old Clowe, who inked a five-year, $24.25 million deal as an unrestricted free agent this summer, left the bench after playing only 2:01 over three shifts. The Devils are already without one of their high-profile offseason acquisitions in Jaromir Jagr. Jagr also suffered a lower-body injury, on the first day of training camp, and has not played since.
Making moves: The trio of top prospects Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome proved to be an exciting line to watch. The youngsters connected for the Islanders’ first goal of the night 3:31 in, with Nelson setting up Lee all alone in front of veteran netminder Martin Brodeur.
Take Three: Tough guys Brett Gallant and Krys Barch fought three separate times. The two players found a sneaky way to skirt the rules in their second bout. To avoid a penalty for taking their helmets off before a fight, each player politely tipped each other’s off for him. There were no civil pleasantries the next time, however. Barch dropped Gallant with a powerful uppercut during Round 3 in the third period. Both players were tossed with game misconducts.
38dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald