The New York Islanders pulled off a character-defining win, but don’t let that overshadow the fact that work still needs to be done along the blueline.
The New York Islanders have been better since last week’s 5-4 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils. They’ve now won three straight and look to continue that trend to amend for a five-game losing streak.
Defensively, the Isles have been searching for some redemption. Fortunately, they’re starting to find some consistency out of their goaltending which has been an area of concern all season long. In their last three combined starts, both Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have posted a .930 save percentage.
Yes, it’s a small sample size, but the Islanders’ overall play has been night and day since they finally managed to break their losing streak. The offense is resurgent, scoring a combined 16 goals in their last three games after netting just eight during their five-game skid.
The Islanders’ depth scoring issues are also starting to take an interesting turn. Since his AHL stint, Anthony Beauvillier has been kicking it into another gear for the New York Islanders. Beauvillier has scored in all three of the Isles wins and has four goals and five points in that span. It seems all that was missing from his game was just a little confidence, and the Isles would benefit if he can stay consistent on the bottom-six.
Once the roster rounds out after injury, Doug Weight and company will have some lengthy decisions as to who is the odd-man out. Tanner Fritz will likely return, as well as Michael Dal Colle who finally made his NHL debut against the Rangers.
Greiss was a huge factor in the Isles 5-4 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens, with 52 saves—many of them crucial—keeping the Isles within reach. The main detractor in the Isles win was just that — 56 shots on goal.
It’s not just the 56 shots on goal that sets off red flags, in fact, it’s rather fitting, considering the Canadiens rank fourth-overall in the league in shots for. The issue is allowing four goals to a team that is 29th overall in the NHL in the goals-for per game category.
The Isles had a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes of the first period and then maintained a 4-2 lead after John Tavares‘ short-handed goal. The Isles inability to clamp down is still concerning, but not the character in the locker room that seems to have returned. Tavares got his second of the game to win it in overtime, but it was a game that really shouldn’t have sniffed a second of an extra period.
So yes, it’s a much-needed game and effort from Greiss to earn a .929 save percentage on the night and two important points. But the Islanders host the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m., and the Devils will be seeking retribution their focus has to be razor-sharp to maintain pace and earn their fourth-straight win — preferably by allowing less than three goals.