The Islanders played all three of their games on the road this week, going 1-2 across their three games. They opened the week with a resounding win over the Canucks, but had back to back ugly losses against the Oilers and Flames. Now at the midway point of their season, the Islanders have a 22-17-2 record with 46 points. They’re still neck and neck with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card spot.
Strong Second Half Fuels Win Against Vancouver
First stop on a week-long Canadian road trip was to Vancouver to play the Canucks. Much like in their prior game, the opening period in this contest was absolutely terrible. The Canucks dominated in the offensive zone, with Bo Horvat providing a goal at the 18:23 mark. With the way the Isles played that period, it was highly fortunate that Horvat’s goal was the only damage done.
Once the second period began, the Islanders finally found their footing. Early in the period, Ross Johnston connected a pass to Aatu Raty on a 2-on-1 who scored his second career goal to tie the game. Then at 12:56, J.G. Pageau punched in the rare power play goal to take a 2-1 lead. Mat Barzal continued his hot streak as well, wristing a goal past Spencer Martin from the circle for a 3-1 lead. The Canucks managed to keep things interesting when Horvat struck again with a power play snap shot goal to keep Vancouver within one heading into the third.
Early in the period, Anders Lee made a spin move to score a big goal to help keep the Canucks at bay. Midway through, Cizikas scored from the circle to make it 5-2 and give the Isles even more wiggle room. With the Vancouver net empty while on the PK, Pageau scored his second of the game with a shorthanded goal to seal a 6-2 victory.
Islanders Play Sloppy in Loss to Oilers
The second stop on this road trip did not treat the Islanders very well. For a third straight game, they came out of the gate very slow and sloppy. The second of two early penalties from the Islanders led to a Draisaitl power play goal to put Edmonton on top. Towards the end of the period, Hudson Fasching drew a hook to give the Islanders their first power play chance. But even that was a disaster, with an offensive zone turnover leading to an Oilers 2-on-1 that resulted in Kailer Yamamoto scoring a shorthanded goal for a 2-0 advantage.
Much like last game, the Islanders showed some improvement in the early portion of the second period. Barzal stayed red hot with yet another goal to get the Isles on the board. But at 8:34, Dylan Holloway ripped a one-timer past Sorokin to regain the two goal lead. Later in the period, another turnover followed by Alex Romanov losing his man allowed Zach Hyman to score on a breakaway to put the Oilers up 4-1. Cal Clutterbuck scored a deflection during the last minute of the period to keep the Islanders within striking distance heading into the third.
However, the Islanders had no response in the third period. They didn’t play terribly but couldn’t generate any offense to make this game interesting. Edmonton held them off with the net empty in the final two minutes to take a 4-2 win.
Flames Burn Islanders After Bad Start
The final stop on the road trip saw the Islanders travel to Calgary to play the Flames. This game started on a low note, with the red hot Barzal suddenly being ruled out with a lower body injury after taking warmups. And for yet another game, the first period was a nightmare. A turnover from Scott Mayfield in the offensive zone helped set up Milan Lucic for the game’s opening goal. Not even a full two minutes later Blake Coleman scored a goal off of his own rebound to give the Flames a quick two goal lead. The Islanders committed another costly offensive zone turnover, resulting in Nikita Zadorov scoring a deflection goal past Varlamov for a commanding 3-0 lead at the 14:21 mark. Zach Parise was able to score in the final minute of the period to stop the bleeding and give the Islanders some shred of hope heading into the second.
But Parise’s goal proved to be the only one the Islanders could muster. Aside from two breakaway chances in the second, the Isles couldn’t get many good chances against Markstrom in this one. Nazem Kadri scored from a tight angle in the third to cement a 4-1 win over the Islanders.
Aside from taking care of business against the Canucks, this was a rough week for the Islanders. This trend of bad start after bad start is extremely concerning. We’re seeing their inconsistency seemingly get worse and cost them a lot of games, especially on the road. This level of play is simply not good enough for a playoff hopeful.
Now at the midway point of the season, there are still a lot of big questions about the ability of this Islanders team. They’re in an almost impossible position right now. They’re not bad enough to completely write off, but they’re not consistently good enough to be considered a true playoff threat. Perhaps the upcoming homestand can help turn some things around, but weeks like this make it very hard to believe this team could sustain success throughout the rest of the season.
3 Stars of the Week
1. Mat Barzal (2 goals, one assist and one power play assist)
2. J.G. Pageau (One PPG, one SHG, one assist)
3. Casey Cizikas (One goal, two assists)
Featured image courtesy of Twitter/@NHLFlames
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