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Nabokov makes 23 saves and Islanders use 3-goal 1st period for 3-0 win over Red Wings

New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, center, of Russia, celebrates their 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings with Brian Strait (37) and Thomas Hickey (14) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, center, of Russia, celebrates their 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings with Brian Strait (37) and Thomas Hickey (14) in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT - Holding onto leads late in games has been an issue for the New York Islanders this season.

However, it wasn't a problem on Monday night.

Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his 56th career shutout in the New York Islanders' 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.

The Islanders scored all of their goals in the first period.

"We just wanted to stick with it and keep playing and not think about the things that could happen," said captain John Tavares, who had an assist.

Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Casey Cizikas scored for New York. The Islanders have only won three of their past 17 (3-10-4) and it was Nabokov's first shutout of the season.

"I thought we had an extra gear tonight. They might have come out flat, but we did a good job to get on 'em," Okposo said.

Petr Mrazek stopped 16 shots for Detroit.

"I thought our intensity in the first period wasn't good enough. They scored on their shots and I don't think we did much. They didn't do much either, but they scored," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

"The bottom line is we played catch-up all night long. I thought we made it easy on their team. We never got in on their D, we weren't physical like we have been, or heavy in the offensive zone."

Okposo opened the scoring with 9:03 left in the first when he put a cross-crease pass into the empty-side of the net off the rush for his 12th goal.

Grabner got his fifth goal, with 4:53 remaining in the opening period, when his shot from the left circle deflected off the stick of Detroit defenceman Brendan Smith. Cizikas made it 3-0, with 3:05 left in the first period, when he put in a one-time shot from in front of the net. It was Cizikas' fourth goal.

"I thought our guys started on time. We got the three goals, but we did some good things out there," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We battled ... In the end, it's the will to compete and I thought we did."

Tavares hit the post less than 30 seconds into the second period.

Patrick Eaves hit the crossbar and Gustav Nyquist hit the post for Detroit early in the third period.

NOTES: Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson went to the dressing room during the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Babcock said Ericsson had been taken to the hospital and his condition will be updated Tuesday or Wednesday. ... Petr Mrazek started in goal for Detroit after Jonas Gustavsson came up with a tender groin and sat out as a precaution. ... The Islanders hadn't played in Detroit in nearly three years. Their last game at Joe Louis Arena was Dec. 31, 2010. ... Red Wings' RW Gustav Nyquist returned after missing three games with a groin injury. ... New York LW Matt Martin is from Windsor, Ontario, which is across the Detroit River from Detroit. ... Detroit C Stephen Weiss had sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia on Monday morning. He is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks and the Red Wings are aiming for him to be back after the Olympic break, which is Feb. 9-25. ... A power outage in downtown Detroit forced the Red Wings to have their pre-game skate on Monday morning in a partially-lighted Joe Louis Arena.

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