The history books will record Saturday night’s game as a loss for the Islanders. But for Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, the 3-0 loss to the Devils at the Barclays Center was a win for the organization.
“Our ownership — Charles [Wang] — tried to do something in the area [which] couldn’t get done. [The ownership] worked it out here and kept the team in New York and it’s great,” Capuano said of the Islanders’ first game in their new home. The Islanders will move into the Barclays Center before the 2015-16 season.
“We’re excited about it. For our guys to come to the first practice [at the Barclays Center last week], and then leading up to this game, knowing it was sold out and had a great crowd. It was a great atmosphere for us. Too bad we just couldn’t get the win here tonight.”
The first NHL game in Brooklyn drew a crowd of 14,689, which was split between Islanders and Devils fans. The Islanders received a loud reaction when they were introduced before the game, but the crowd quieted after Jacob Josefson opened the scoring 10:16 into the game.
Patrik Elias (4:49) and Steve Bernier (2:31) added markers in the second and the third periods, respectively, as the Devils clogged the neutral zone to frustrate the Islanders and silence the crowd.
“It was pretty split, the fans,” Islanders left wing Matt Moulson said. “I don’t think it was a home-ice advantage yet.”
The Islanders still marveled at their new digs following their second visit in nine days.
“It’s an unbelievable building. Everything was good,” Moulson said. “Our fans have been pretty loyal; they’ve endured some tough times. Old fans, new fans, we want to give them something to cheer about and get behind. They did a great job of that last year with the stretch run [to the Stanley Cup playoffs]. It was unbelievable playing at the [Nassau] Coliseum with the kind of atmosphere we had. So [we want to] give them something to cheer about.”
The only complaint the Islanders had about the building was the ice conditions.
“It was tough for anyone to get an advantage with how the ice was tonight,” Moulson said. “I thought everything was good minus the ice conditions that obviously have to be worked on. I’m sure they’ll be able to figure that out.
“I think this is the worst [ice] by far. It was tough. It was everything. Holes in the ice, it was tough.”
Neither team held an early skate at the Barclays Center. The Islanders skated at Nassau Coliseum while the Devils skated at the Prudential Center. When the Devils arrived, the entire team, including the coaching staff and general manager Lou Lamoriello, walked up to the glass behind one of the goals and looked at the set up for the building.
“It’s interesting,” Devils head coach Pete DeBoer said when he met with reporters before the game. “I don’t think I’ve been in a building specifically built for basketball, with that kind of configuration. So it’s an interesting building.
“I’m a coach, not an architect. I think it’ll be fine for hockey. It’s got two benches. I don’t think it matters where the clock is. I think if they get 15,000 people in here it’ll be a great venue.”
Cory Schneider had 26 saves in the shutout win for the Devils.
Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves for the Islanders.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.