This was a fairly brutal week of New York Islanders hockey. And that’s not because the team played bad hockey by any means. It’s because they genuinely had the chance to win all three games they played, but only won once. They lost in heartbreaking fashion on the road against the Colorado Avalanche, then took a frustrating home loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The Islanders finally found a win in Saturday’s home game against the Saint Louis Blues, by far their best overall game of the week. It was an equally encouraging and frustrating week, playing good hockey without Mat Barzal but only managing one win. Here’s a recap of all the Islanders action from this past week of games.
An Early Heartbreaker
The game against the Avalanche has to go down as the most agonizing loss of the week. The game came down to one pivotal moment in the third period. At 11:49 of the third period, Sebastian Aho thought he scored the go ahead goal for the Islanders. However, after official review, it was determined that the puck did not fully cross the line and the game remained tied at three. And then a minute later, Andre Burakovsky scored the game winning goal for the Avalanche.
The image above shows the aforementioned reversed goal from Sebastian Aho. It is beyond frustrating that a puck that far over the line was called back. It doesn’t help that the game winner was scored almost immediately after that moment. For even more salt in the proverbial wound, former Islander Devon Toews racked up 3 points in his first game against the team since being traded. This was actually a good game for the Islanders, putting up a really strong fight against the league’s best team. But the heartbreaking nature of this loss makes it hard to feel good about this one.
Another Third Period Breakdown
After an up and down first 40 minutes, the Islanders went into the third period tied with the Canucks. Anthony Beauvillier started the period strong, forcing a turnover and then scoring a beauty of a goal for the 3-2 lead. However, it all went downhill from there. At 9:34, Nils Hoglander took advantage of some quality offensive zone time and scored on a tip-in to tie it at three. Then 45 seconds later, a failed dump from Scott Mayfield led to Vasily Podkolzin scoring the game winner on a wrister. This was another really frustrating game for the Islanders.
On top of the breakdown, they got no power play chances against the Canucks’ worst ranked PK unit. There also was the controversial Travis Hamonic play on Aho that preceded Vancouver’s first goal, which is up for debate on whether a penalty should’ve been called or not. It was a shaky night for Semyon Varlamov too, who made 34 saves but let in some very savable shots, especially the first goal. But regardless of the non-penalties and the iffy goals, this kind of game has been the story of the Islanders season. A decent fight all in all, but not enough to get the victory.
Ending the Week Strong
Saturday afternoon’s performance against the Blues was the Islanders best of the week. The game opened with a celebration of Zdeno Chara’s record breaking 1,652nd NHL game. It seems almost fitting that the game that ensued was very physical and involved several skirmishes. Wahlstrom opened the scoring, taking a pass from Adam Pelech and scoring from a tough angle. Kyle Palmieri thought he scored towards the end of the first, but the goal was reversed for goaltender interference.
A late Pavel Buchnevich penalty set up a Brock Nelson power play goal early in the second off a nice feed from Noah Dobson. Palmieri thought he had an insurance goal again in the third, but again it was waved off, this time for a high stick. Robert Thomas broke the shutout with a 6 on 5 goal for the Blues with a goal that looked similar to Wahlstrom’s. There was some high danger chances for the Blues in the final two minutes, but the Islanders held on for the 2-1 victory.
3 Stars of the Week
The first star of the week is a tough choice between Palmieri and Dobson, but the edge goes to Palmieri. Palmieri had goals against both the Avalanche and Canucks, and almost had two against the Blues. He’s been having a great stretch of offensive hockey after returning from the birth of his son, Luca. It’s a welcome and much needed hot stretch from Palmieri after only having one goal since November before this stretch.
The easy choice for the second star of the week is Noah Dobson. His strong play from the point continued with his slap shot goal against the Canucks. In addition, he made an intelligent play passing off the puck to Brock Nelson for a power play assist against the Blues. These points add to what has been a highly productive month of play from the young defenseman. Dobson is fourth in points scored by a defenseman since February 6th. His high level of play has been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.
The third star of the week will have to go to Ilya Sorokin. Across his two starts, he made 60 out of 65 saves against the Avalanche and Blues. He’s getting the third star primarily for his performance against the Blues. He shut them down through two and a half periods, and came up huge in the final minutes. His work behind the crease was a major factor in the Islanders 2-1 victory. The four goals against the Avalanche was rough, but he also came up with 38 saves, which is still vey impressive.
The Next Week
The Islanders have a four game home stretch this week. They start with a rematch against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. This will be Devon Toews first time playing against the Islanders on the road. They follow with back to back games on Thursday and Fridays against the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets. The week concludes with a Sunday night tilt against the Anaheim Ducks, who they shutout in their first meeting this season.
Featured image courtesy of Yahoo! Sports
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