Despite getting off to a bit of a tough start, this week of Islanders hockey was one of the best from this mostly miserable season. After another close loss to the Avalanche, they recovered and went on to win the remaining three games throughout the week. The team played some great hockey in these games, and left many fans wondering where this level of play was months ago.
Another Thriller Against the Avalanche
This game presented yet another close, but disappointing thriller for the Islanders against the Avalanche. First period power play goals from Anders Lee and Cale Makar respectively kept this game tied at one until the third. The Islanders had a golden opportunity in the second when Josh Bailey got a rebound on his backhand with a wide open net in front of him. But instead of giving the Islanders an important 2-1 lead, he missed the net wide and the game remained tied. And then in the third period, the defense completely fell apart for the Islanders. In a span of four minutes, all of Nathan MacKinnon, J.T. Compher, Cale Makar and (of course) former Islander Devon Toews scored to give the Avalanche a commanding 5-1 lead.
As some fans started to filter out of UBS Arena, the Islanders began to mount a comeback. A Gabriel Landeskog interference penalty set up another Anders Lee power play goal. A minute and a half later, Casey Cizikas scored on a rebounded shot to make it 5-3. A Mikko Rantenen tripping penalty gave the Islanders a shot at a 6 on 4 opportunity with the net empty. Nothing came out of it, but Brock Nelson scored with under 30 seconds left to bring the Islanders to within one. Unfortunately, it was too late for the Islanders to complete the comeback and lost 5-4 in this one. The loss was just as frustrating as last week’s, but it was another great showing against one of the league’s best. Especially in the way the team continued to fight, even after a disastrous stretch in the third period. Semyon Varlamov’s performance in this one also can’t be ignored. Even though he imploded in the third, his 44 saves were critical in keeping this game from getting completely out of hand and giving the Islanders a legitimate chance to win.
A Perfect Game Against Columbus
Thursday’s home game against the Blue Jackets is really as perfect of a game as you can ask for. The Islanders dominated play throughout and came up with a 6-0 victory. One of the notable areas of success in this game was the penalty kill. The Blue Jackets had five chances on the power play throughout, and couldn’t score on any of them. And when the Blue Jackets did have scoring chances, Sorokin came up clutch with a 25 save shutout. The cherry on top was Anders Lee’s first career hat trick, scoring the third goal with 1.4 seconds on the clock on a late power play. The Islanders had two other special teams goals in this game with Brock Nelson’s first period power play goal and J.G. Pageau’s second period shorthanded goal assisted by Ryan Pulock on a 2 on 1. Josh Bailey also broke out of his recent slump and had a goal and an assist in the win.
Islanders Finally Win Consecutive Games
This game featured the return of both Mat Barzal and Zdeno Chara after dealing with injuries. The Islanders took the lead in the first period lead after Anthony Beauvillier hit Brock Nelson with a quality cross ice pass on the power play. However, near the end of the period, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor broke off on a 2 on 0 in which the latter scored the game tying goal on a one timer.
The Islanders came up strong early in the second, scoring two goals in 40 seconds. On the first, Bailey caught up to his own rebound and beat Connor Hellebuyck by the post. On the second, Anders Lee also took advantage of a rebound, depositing a Brock Nelson rebounded shot. The Islanders held the Jets scoreless until the start of the third. Blake Wheeler scored off a Dylan DeMelo shot that bounced off several skates to go in and make it a 3-2 game. But Josh Bailey backhanded a rebounded Adam Pelech shot to give the Islanders some needed insurance. The Jets emptied their net with over four minutes left in the game, but Cal Clutterbuck scored on the empty net to stop any chance at a comeback. The Islanders took a 5-2 victory to win consecutive games for the first time since January. This was another well played win for the Islanders, with Josh Bailey now riding a hot streak after a really bad stretch of play. In addition, this win marked Barry Trotz’s 900th win as an NHL head coach.
Make it Three Straight
The Islanders capped off a predominantly successful week with a win against the Anaheim Ducks. A beautiful between the legs set up pass from Mat Barzal to Zach Parise gave them an early 1-0 lead. Josh Manson scored the equalizer for the Ducks at 9:48 in the first. But within the last minute of the period, the Ducks had a major meltdown. First Kyle Palmieri scored short side from the left circle to give the advantage back to the Islanders. Then with only 4 seconds left in the period, Anders Lee deflected a Ryan Pulock shot to give the Islanders a 3-1 advantage heading into the break. Most of the second was played scoreless until Isac Lundestrom brought the Ducks to within one at 14:23. Kyle Palmieri answered back three minutes later with his second goal of the night to regain the two goal advantage.
Adam Henrique scored for the Ducks with the net empty at 18:16 to make the final minute of play a little less comfortable for the Islanders. However, the Islanders did great keeping the puck deep and preventing the Ducks from taking another shot on Sorokin before Cal Clutterbuck cleared the puck down the ice to secure the 4-3 win. Sorokin was outstanding in this one and saved what could’ve been several Ducks goals throughout. The PK was strong yet again, stopping both Ducks power play opportunities. The PK is now on a run where they’ve killed 22 of the last 24 penalties taken. This also marks the first time the team has won three straight games this season. Their playoff chances are very slim, but the team appears ready to fight for that chance until the bitter end.
3 Stars of the Week
Anders Lee (7 total goals, 3 power play goals, first career hat trick in win vs. Blue Jackets)
Josh Bailey (6 points, 2 goals in win vs. Jets)
Ilya Sorokin (2 wins, .0955 save percentage, shutout win vs. Blue Jackets, 39 saves in win vs. Ducks)
Featured image courtesy of Adam Hunger
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