The New York Islanders are firing on all cylinders and their 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins featured goals from every Islander line and a lot of superb netminding.
The New York Islanders are finding the most unconventional ways to win hockey games.
It started on opening night with a 2-1 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes in which they were outshot 46-20 and has continued through their most recent win in Pittsburgh, outshot 38-25.
The Islanders’ win over the Penguins is their third in a row after going 1-2-1 in their previous four games. A three-game road sweep leaves the Islanders with a 6-4-1 record in October — a month where they played eight of 11 on the road.
Considering the inconsistency in the first month of the season, November’s 13 home games with only one back-to-back stretch sounds very appealing when you look at the Islanders success on the road.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 31, 2018
Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Martin, and Andrew Ladd all found their way to the scoresheet with goals against Pittsburgh while Martin had himself a two-point game.
The Islanders started Tuesday night by giving Matt Murray and the Penguins a quick scare with two goals in the game’s first eight minutes. From there, the Islanders had what Barry Trotz considered their worst period of the season.
Once Casey Cizikas flipped the puck to Martin who put the Isles ahead 3-2, it was all Islanders. But to get there, they would need Robin Lehner’s sharp play throughout the first. Lehner did not return to the net for the third period after what Trotz called a strain. Thomas Greiss entered the game in the third period and made 12 relief saves on 13 shots.
Though no update has been provided on Lehner’s status, early signs from Islanders practice don’t look promising.
It is Christopher Gibson on ice for #Isles in place of Lehner. Clutterbuck also practicing today.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 31, 2018
The Islanders were able to get a little bit of everything in their game, from shutdown defense, a perfect penalty-kill which now ranks 13 overall in the NHL, to arguably the most important part of their game, with both goalies posting save percentages well over .920 — something the Islanders couldn’t say much at all last season.
October proved to be a very important month for an Islanders team in transition. There was little time to settle in right from the get-go, starting on the road, then two quick games at home before an awkward four-day break and three games in four nights in their California road trip.
Perhaps the most telling sign of change was their response against the Philadelphia Flyers after coming from their brutal California series.
Rather than packing it in and allowing goals against and hostile arenas get to them, the Islanders followed Trotz’s script to a tee and pulled away with an optimistic run that has fans believing this team is bringing much more than meets the eye this season.
Despite what’s said by those across the league about their roster, the Islanders are finally playing like a good NHL team because they believe they are. The emphasis was and continues to be on the “team game”, where everyone has a role to play and if one player doesn’t step up, someone is ready to take that place.
All of the pieces in Lou Lamoriello’s vision are slowly understanding their roles on this team, and time will continue to show what the Islanders are capable of this season as November, and all the history of failure it brings, slowly rears its head.