NEW YORK — When the Vancouver Canucks signed Ryan Miller to a three-year, $18 million contract in 2014, the organization believed it had acquired a difference-making goaltender.
In his first visit to Barclays Center, Miller gave that kind of performance.
"I felt pretty good," Miller said after he made 47 saves and Radim Vrbata scored in the shootout, leading the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday.
"I was seeing the puck well," he added.
Ben Hutton scored for the Canucks (19-17-10) in regulation.
Despite receiving an 25-save effort from Jaroslav Halak, the Islanders’ fell to 24-15-6 as their two-game winning streak came to an end.
Ryan Strome scored for New York.
Despite the loss, the Islanders passed the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders entered the day third in the Metropolitan Division despite having the same amount of points (53) and the same record (24-15-5) as the Rangers, who had one more regulation and overtime win. But the Islanders gained one point in the shootout loss, while the Rangers dropped a 5-2 decision to the division-leading Washington Capitals.
"We played three pretty good hockey games this week and got five out of six points," Kyle Okposo said.
The first of two regular-season meetings between Vancouver and New York was unusually chippy. The tenor of the game was underscored by Mikhail Grabovski called for boarding Henrik Sedin into the Vancouver bench with 1:44 left in the first period. Grabovski was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit.
"The NHL will make a decision," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said when asked if he was concerned if the league’s Department of Player Safety will suspend Grabovski. "They always rule; they’ve always done their job. We’ll see what they have to say."
Both teams skirmished in the far corner following the hit, while Sedin was on his hands and knees being examined by a trainer. Eventually, the Vancouver captain was helped off the ice, but he did not return.
"It was a hard hit but that’s up to the league to take a look at it," Desjardins said. "We have to be careful with Henrik. We will see (his condition Monday) after the evaluation."
The Canucks retaliated in the second period as Derek Dorsett steamrolled an unsuspecting John Tavares in the defensive zone as the Islanders’ captain battled for a loose puck following a faceoff.
"The first period was (really) chippy," Matt Martin said. "(There were) a lot of penalties (in the first period. That happens from time to time. A couple rough hits."
Despite being outshot 48-26, it was the Canucks who opened the scoring.
Vancouver broke through 9:46 into the second period on Hutton’s goal.
The 22-year old defenceman’s goal was the culmination of a sequence which began with Halak turning away Jared McCann’s wrist shot from the right side. Daniel Sedin corralled the rebound and attempted to set up Jannik Hansen from the low slot, but the right wing whiffed on the shot and puck ended up on the left side of the ice where Hutton snapped it from the left circle for his first NHL goal.
"It felt good," Hutton said. "It was a pretty important one, too."
Miller attempted to make the slim lead hold up despite being under siege for the entirety of the third period. New York outshot Vancouver 22-4 in the third, but could not equalize until Ryan Strome’s goal with 50.8 seconds left.
NOTES: Prior to the game, the Islanders announced Adam Pelech was out with an upper body injury. A team spokesman categorized Pelech’s condition as "day to day" in a text message. … Johnny Boychuk missed his seventh straight game with an upper body injury. … Travis Hamonic missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury. . Vancouver dressed Luca Sbisa for the first time since Dec. 1. He had missed 16 games with a hand injury. .The Canucks also dressed Hansen, who had missed Vancouver’s previous four games with an upper body injury. . New York scratched Steve Bernier. . The Canucks scratched Yannick Weber, Jake Virtanen and Adam Cracknell. … The game drew an announced sellout crowd of 15,795. The Islanders have sold out five of 25 home games this season. The other sellouts were opening night against Chicago, the two home games against the New York Rangers, and Dec. 27 against Toronto.