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Islanders Get Their First Win of the Year

Islanders Get Their First Win of the Year

The start of the Islanders’ game against the Chicago Blackhawks was a total disaster. First, captain Anders Lee was ruled out last second due to a non-COVID illness and replaced by Kieffer Bellows. The Islanders followed that with an abysmal first period where they were outshot and completely outplayed. But the Islanders elevated their play and wound up winning the game at a final score of 4-1. 

Period by Period Improvement

As mentioned, the first period was a complete nightmare. The same issues that plagued the team in Florida followed them to Chicago. They had limited time in the offensive zone and played some pretty sloppy defense in their own zone. This sloppy zone defense led to 18 Blackhawks shots in the first period alone. And while the Islanders are no strangers to letting up a lot of shots, these were prime opportunities. The only reason the Islanders didn’t leave the first-period trailing was due to the outstanding play of Ilya Sorokin.

The second period was a modest improvement, although they did continue to play some questionable defense in their own zone. The positive from this period was the Islanders’ first goal scored by Anthony Beauvillier in front of the net. The third period was by far and away the Islanders’ best period of the night. On top of the offensive explosion for three goals, the defense was at its best. This more resembled the classic Islanders style of play as the Blackhawks were unable to get many quality chances on Sorokin. Compared to the 31 shots through the first two periods, the Blackhawks only had nine in the third. The only unfortunate part of this period was Sorokin losing a much-deserved shutout with only 26 seconds left in the game. 

Sorokin’s 39 Save Night

Islanders Get Their First Win of the Year

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

Speaking of Sorokin, he undoubtedly was the Islanders’ first star of the night. He wasn’t at his best for the Islanders’ first two games, but he was clutch in this victory. The Blackhawks very easily could’ve had a two to a three-goal lead after the first period. But Sorokin kept them off the board with his great positioning and fast reactions. The one goal Sorokin let up occurred when MacKenzie Entwistle received a great behind-the-back pass from Kirby Dach right in front of the net. Regardless of losing the shutout, the 39 save performance from Sorokin was still phenomenal. His work in the net kept the Islanders from having to play from behind, gave them momentum and led them to a win. 

Oliver Wahlstrom Shines

Islanders Get Their First Win of the Year
Courtesy of Getty Images

The offensive performance of the night belonged to second-year winger Oliver Wahlstrom. He contributed to three of the four Islanders’ goals on the night. Wahlstrom’s aggressive work behind the net allowed Beauvillier to be able to take the free puck and net the first goal in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. For the second goal, Wahlstrom intercepted a bad pass from Henrik Borgström, made some nice moves with the puck and scored on a snapshot. For the third goal of the night, Wahlstrom scored off of an excellent cross-ice pass from J.G. Pageau. Right after Sorokin, Wahlstrom was the second biggest factor in the Islanders’ win. He played a very aggressive offensive game with eight shots on the night, and it paid off for him. After reports of a rough camp, it was encouraging to see such a great performance by the youngster. 

The Next Game

Next up on the schedule is a trip to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets on Friday. The Blue Jackets are 2-1 with wins against the Seattle Kraken and the Arizona Coyotes. The goaltending matchup will be Ilya Sorokin against Elvis Merzlikins, who played well in his first two starts. The Islanders will hope to build momentum from this winning performance to bring themselves back even at 2-2.

Featured image courtesy of ESPN

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