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Islanders Highlights from Their Triumphant Return To Play

Islanders Highlights

After an extended break which saw three games get postponed, the Islanders returned to play Thursday night. They managed to play two home games, one against the Buffalo Sabres and the other against the Edmonton Oilers. Both of these games were triumphant victories, beating the Sabres 4-1 and the Oilers 3-2 in an overtime game. 

Buffalo Sabres

Islanders Highlights

Courtesy of NHL

The first period was the only period where this game was ever in doubt for the Islanders. Mat Barzal struck first, getting a nice snapshot goal in transition against Malcolm Subban. The Islanders squandered this early lead near the end of the period, allowing former Islander Kyle Okposo to net a power-play goal. However, this would ultimately be the only goal the Sabres would score in the contest. Starter Semyon Varlamov managed to save all of the other 36 shots from the Sabres. For the Islanders, they took the lead back in the second period after a really impressive wrister from Kieffer Bellows. He took this puck all the way from the Islanders zone and made a couple of impressive stick moves en route to scoring this goal. 

Bellows has been playing really well as of late, this being his second straight game with a big goal. Anders Lee added to the lead in the second period with a power-play goal. Noah Dobson scored one more insurance goal in the third to secure a 4-1 victory for the Islanders. Simply put, the Islanders took care of business and beat a team they needed to beat. With their poor early start, the team can’t afford to lose games against poor teams like the Sabres. This victory was the perfect start to their return to play.

Edmonton Oilers

Islanders Highlights
Courtesy of Getty Images

The Islanders opened in 2022 by welcoming the always difficult Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have the league’s top two point leaders in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, with Draisaitl also having the league lead in goals. The Islanders took the lead in the first period of this game, scoring 14 seconds into their first power play. Anders Lee stopped a shot from Bellows and backhanded it through Mikko Koskinen’s five-hole. The Islanders took this 1-0 lead into the second but completely unraveled in that period. Just a minute into the period and the Islanders left Draisaitl way too much room to operate in the offensive zone, and he made them pay for it by scoring his 25th of the year. Later into the period, Darnell Nurse gave the visitors a 2-1 lead after depositing a rebound by Ilya Sorokin

In the third period, Anthony Beauvillier deposited a rebound of his own to tie the game back up. The teams took this 2-2 tie into an overtime period. With only a minute left in the overtime period, Noah Dobson went right into the offensive zone at the start of his shift and scored the game-winning wrister for the Islanders. Dobson is in the midst of a great offensive season now at 14 points on the year. He’s elevated his overall game while Ryan Pulock has been gone and has come up big a number of times for the team. This was a great confidence booster for the Islanders, beating a strong Western Conference opponent at home. The discipline from the Islanders in this game was also impressive as they did not allow the top-rated Oilers power play to get any chances. 

What’s Next?

The pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc on the Islanders season as they won’t return to action for nearly two weeks. They were initially due to have a four-game road trip over that span, but all four games were postponed. The Islanders now have 10 games to make up, seven of which will be on the road. They return to action at home on January 13 against the rival New Jersey Devils.

This opens an important stretch of home games for the Islanders where they’ll play four straight divisional contests. The other three divisional teams they’ll face are the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets. These last two wins were very important in giving the team momentum and confidence heading into that four-game stretch. If the Islanders can extend their win streak in those contests, they could be on the road to recovering this nightmare of a season.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images

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