The Islanders went 1-1-1 in their three games this week and picked up three points. They dropped a shootout loss to the Stars on Tuesday and blew a third period lead against the Wild on Thursday. The week culminated with a win against the Canadiens that snapped a four game losing streak. With 49 points, the Islanders lead the Penguins by one point for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Islanders Lose in Shootout to the Stars
Coming off a long and disastrous road trip, the Islanders hoped to try and turn things around back on Long Island. Despite having a much more energetic start to this contest, the Islanders still were plagued by the first period. An exquisite series of passes from the Stars set up Jason Robertson to score the first goal of the contest. At the 13:39 mark, the Islanders responded with Anders Lee tipping in a shot past Oettinger on the power play to tie the game at one.
As it would turn out, Lee’s first period marker would be the last goal scored in regulation time. The Islanders played a great defensive game after letting up the early goal to keep the Stars off the board. They also managed their way to several great opportunities against Oettinger throughout the second and third periods. But their inability to finish on said chances sent this game to overtime and eventually a shootout. Robertson burned the Islanders again, scoring the only Stars shootout goal past Sorokin. For the Isles, they again couldn’t find a shootout goal and lost the game at a 2-1 final score, securing a point in the process.
Terrible Third Period Leads to Fourth Straight Loss
The Islanders got off to their best start in several weeks in Thursday’s home game against the Wild. Scott Mayfield beat Filip Gustavsson with a long range shot at 16:49 in the first period to give the Isles a lead. With that, the Islanders ended the first period with a lead for the first time in weeks. The Islanders were unable to build on that slim lead, but did a great job holding off the Wild for most of the game.
With a 1-0 lead and a power play chance coming their way in the third period, the Isles appeared to be in the driver’s seat. Instead, they completely lost control of the game. Some sloppy work from Noah Dobson allowed Joel Eriksson Ek and Frederick Gaudreau to break off for a two-on-one. At first, it appeared that Sorokin made a highlight reel save on Gaudreau’s shot to preserve the Isles’ lead.
However, an official review revealed that the puck had crossed the line fully and Gaudreau had tied the game at one with a shorthanded goal. A mere two minutes later, a Mayfield defensive zone turnover followed by a great setup pass from Mats Zuccarello allowed for Sam Steel to give the Wild their first lead of the game at the 7:32 mark of the third. The shell-shocked Islanders couldn’t find the tying marker in the final seven minutes. Kirill Kaprizov scored an empty netter to wrap up a 3-1, come from behind victory for the Wild.
Islanders Snap Losing Streak Against the Canadiens
After a pair of difficult losses, the Islanders ended the week with a date against the lowly Canadiens. The Islanders came out on fire in this game, absolutely dominating the Canadiens in the first period. Just two minutes into the game, Casey Cizikas tipped in a Dobson shot to take the quick lead. Anthony Beauvillier scored off of a rebounded shot to double the Islander’s lead at the 6:03 mark.
The Isles were unable to recapture that first period dominance, but they still managed to get the job done. The PK went a perfect two-for-two and Sorokin took care of business behind the crease. Things got a little tense late in the third period when Nick Suzuki was finally able to hit paydirt for the Canadiens and cut the Islander’s lead to just one. But unlike their previous game, they kept it together and held on for the 2-1 win.
This could’ve easily been a perfect three win week for the Islanders if not for the offensive funk they’ve gotten into. Not being able to finish their numerous quality opportunities in regulation cost them an extra point against the Stars. Then there was the disaster against the Wild on Thursday. Two and a half periods of great team defense couldn’t get the Isles a win because they again couldn’t find a second goal. And even worse, the eventual meltdown began on the heels of their own power play, which is flat out unacceptable.
Even mustering just two goals against a Canadiens team they dominated is a little disappointing. If there’s one thing to say about this Islanders team, it’s that they’re consistently inconsistent. It seems like if it’s not one thing it’s the other, and they’ve yet to be able to consistently put it all together. They’re still in the playoff mix, but are in need of a big turnaround to really cement their status as a postseason team.
3 Stars of the Week
1. Ilya Sorokin (Saved 80 of 84 shots faced in three starts)
2. Scott Mayfield (Goal and assist)
3. Anders Lee (Game-tying PPG vs. Stars)
Featured image courtesy of Twitter/@DallasStars
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