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Islanders Lose a Shootout Thriller to the Golden Knights

Islanders Golden Knights

Sunday was an eventful day at UBS Arena for the New York Islanders. They welcomed the Vegas Golden Knights for their first-ever meeting at the new arena. This game also featured a pregame celebration of Andy Greene playing his 1000th game in the NHL. In addition, the isles welcomed back an old friend in Robin Lehner, who was a Vezina finalist with them in 2019. After a touching tribute video and a standing ovation for him, it was game on between the Islanders and the Knights.

1st Period

The Islanders didn’t get off to the best start in this one, struggling in their own zone early. Jonathan Marchessault got loose next to the net and deposited a rebound off of Sorokin to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Reilly Smith took a high sticking penalty to give the Islanders a power play chance. Brock Nelson took advantage of this opportunity, scoring on a shot that deflected off of Brayden McNabb’s skate to tie the game at one all.

2nd Period

Islanders Golden Knights


Courtesy of ESPN

This period absolutely belonged to the goaltenders for both teams. The Islanders had some of their best-sustained offensive zone chances in this period. Unfortunately for Isles, Robin Lehner was on top of all of them. On the other end, the Knights also got some premiere chances in the Islanders zone. But they too were shut down by the heroics of Ilya Sorokin. This included a flurry of opportunities close to the Islanders net within a minute that featured several impressive stops by Sorokin The goaltender dominance in the second helped this game stay tied at one heading into the third.

3rd period

Islanders Golden Knights
Courtesy of NHL

The late stages of this period were an absolute rollercoaster for the Islanders. A Zdeno Chara penalty allowed Shea Theodore to break the tie and give the Knights a 2-1 lead. The Islanders got two power plays after the go-ahead goal, but failed to capitalize on either. As the period went into the final few minutes, the situation seemed bleak. But at 14:19, Kieffer Bellows scored off a beautiful shot to tie the game back up. Minutes later, Cal Clutterbuck scored a late goal to give the islanders a 3-2 lead.

That was until Peter DeBoer successfully challenged for an offsides to bring it back to a tie game. However, a mere minute later Jean-Gabriel Pageau got a goal that counted to give the Islanders their 3-2 lead back. An ecstatic UBS Arena was left disappointed when Shea Theodore struck again with the Vegas net empty to tie the game with 47 seconds left. This game would prove to need more than regulation to decide a winner.

Overtime/Shootout

Islanders Golden Knights
Courtesy of Getty Images

The Islanders played a very strong overtime period and predominantly had control of the puck. They had several quality chances, but much like in regulation were not able to get past Lehner on any of them. After trading chances, the game was decided in a shootout. Shea Theodore and Nicolas Roy scored for the Knights while Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom were stopped by Lehner.

Analysis

The Islanders didn’t play their best, but this was a game they could’ve had. It’s a shame that Sorokin wasn’t rewarded with a win for keeping the game close. He was phenomenal and was the biggest reason the game was still tied by the third period. As for what went wrong, there are several areas where the finger could be pointed. The biggest one for this particular game was the Islanders play with the opposition on the man advantage. Both of Shea Theodore’s third period goals came when the Knights had an extra skater on the ice.

They got burned both times because of their inability to escape the zone. In fact, a failed attempt by Scott Mayfield to send the puck around the boards went directly to Alex Pietrangelo, who in turn set up Theodore for the tying shot. This was a problem the Islanders had throughout the game, but it only cost them goals while facing the extra skater. Although their poor play in this regard can’t be excused, Chara’s penalty that set up Theodore’s first goal was pretty mindless in a tie game scenario. He’s taken 57 penalty minutes this season and continues to be a liability for this team.

All in all, this is a game the Islanders should’ve put away. Getting a point against a Western Conference team is always a good thing, but with the team buried so deep in the standings they need to get two whenever they possibly can. Looking ahead, they have a good chance to make a big statement in  their next game. Monday’s game was postponed due to the COVID crisis that is plaguing every major sports league right now. This leaves their next game to be a home contest against the rival Washington Capitals. The Capitals are currently tied for first in the metro with the Carolina Hurricanes. A confident win against a talented, rival team could spark some momentum as the team attempts to battle back into the playoff picture.

Featured image courtesy of CBS New York

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