UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- David Clarkson scored the tie-breaking goal with 11:43 left in the third period as the reigning Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils edged the New York Islanders, 2-1, in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.
Clarkson scored just 65 seconds after the Islanders' Travis Hamonic tied it with a power play goal. The sellout crowd of 16,170 was still cheering Hamonic's tally when Clarkson's slap shot threaded the needle between teammate Patrik Elias as well as the Islanders' Brian Strait and Mark Streit and flew past goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
Travis Zajac scored the first goal of the game for the Devils, who lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, while goaltender Martin Brodeur began his 20th NHL season by recording 17 saves as the Devils improved to 18-8-4 in season openers since moving to New Jersey in 1982.
The Islanders, who are trying to snap a streak of five straight last-place finishes in the Atlantic Division, lost their season opener for the fifth straight season.
The Islanders briefly tied the game on Hamonic's power play goal with 12:48 left. Michael Grabner emerged from a scrum in the right corner with the puck and passed it to Hamonic, who fired it past Brodeur. Hamonic also had the best chance to tie the game late, but Brodeur made a nice glove save on a point-blank shot with 4:14 left.
NOTES: Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur made his NHL-record 18th straight opening night start. Brodeur, who turns 41 in May, signed a two-year contract extension last summer. ... One of Brodeur's new teammates is 18-year-old Stefan Matteau, who was not even born yet when his Dad, Stephane, scored one of the most famous goals in NHL history when he beat Brodeur in double overtime to give the Rangers the win in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Stefan Matteau learned Friday he'd made the Devils' opening night roster. ... The Islanders beat the Florida Panthers, 2-1, in their first game following the 1994-95 lockout on Jan. 21, 1995 while the Devils tied the Hartford Whalers, 2-2, a day later. ... The Islanders suspended defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky on Friday. Visnovsky was acquired from Ducks last June but tried to have the trade overruled by an arbitrator, who declared the deal was valid. Visnovsky played in Europe during the lockout and missed the Islanders' training camp this week due to personal reasons.