Can the Isles complete the sweep in their first two games against the Devils?
The New York Islanders emerged victorious in a decisive win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
Head coach Barry Trotz made some changes to his starters for game two: Michael Dal Colle came off the IR and slotted in on the third line instead of Kieffer Bellows, who was assigned to the taxi squad, and Ilya Sorokin made his second career NHL start.
Did these changes pay off?
1st period: Well that escalated quickly
The Devils came out firing to start the game, proving to be the more dangerous team out of the gate. Five minutes in, Sorokin was forced to make two huge saves on Travis Zajac, and these were arguably the best saves of his young career.
The Islanders were struggling to generate offense, but captain Anders Lee was able to draw a penalty 12:50 into the game.
During the break, the Devils paid tribute to Andy Greene and Cory Schneider, two long-time Devils who are now members of the Islanders.
The Islanders actually had some good looks on this power play, which has been better lately, but Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood made several great saves to prevent New York from getting on the board.
With 6:27 left, Sorokin made another phenomenal save, this time on Miles Wood. Here he showed off his lateral movement and his ability to quickly get from one side of the net to the other.
With 3:37 left, just when the Islanders were getting things going offensively, Scott Mayfield was penalized for hooking.
The Devils took advantage of the power play and were able to score first. The dangerous Jack Hughes sniped one past Sorokin, who had no chance.
With just one minute left in the period, Pavel Zacha took advantage of the Islanders’ struggles in their own zone to score his first goal of the year.
The Islanders did take almost half the period to get going offensively and have looked better defensively, but they didn’t play badly enough to come out of the first down 2-0.
2nd period: Boooooringggg
This game was pretty uneventful and frankly boring, and that became clear during the second period, which was very uneventful. The Islanders were forced onto the penalty kill early in the period, but the Devils were unable to capitalize.
The most noticeable factor of the Islanders this period was that Anthony Beauvillier, who had been struggling to start the season, left the game early in the period with an undisclosed injury. He would not return.
3rd period: Moving On…
This was another dull period of hockey. Noah Dobson, one of the few Islanders playing well, was quite noticeable in the game’s final 20 minutes. Sorokin also had a strong period in net.
The Islanders had a late power play with about five minutes left after Janne Kuokkanen hooked Mathew Barzal in front of New Jersey’s net. Their second power play of the night was absolutely terrible.
Overall, this period was quite good for the Islanders and they were the better team, but they couldn’t do enough to score. They played some sloppy hockey and guys like Jordan Eberle had trouble finishing, but Wedgewood was quite solid for the Devils.
The Islanders have been good but inconsistent to begin the 2021 season and will look (and need) to take advantage of a depleted Washington Capitals team this week.
Key Moment: Sorokin’s highlight-reel save
The Islanders didn’t have many great moments, but Sorokin’s save-of-the-game was noteworthy.
As was previously mentioned, Sorokin showed off some of his skills, such as his great lateral movement, on this save and gave us all a sneak peek as to why he’s been held in such high regard.
This save had to be great for his confidence, as well, moving forward.
Player of the game: Noah Dobson
The moment of the game belongs to the Russian netminder, but the “player of the game” title goes to Dobson.
After having a rough first two games, Dobson has been improving day in and day out and his performance in this game, in particular, was eye-catching.
It was easier for Dobson to stand out because the majority of his teammates didn’t play very well, but he did many good things up and down the ice.
He defended well but was an even more noticeable offensive presence, looking to make plays and not scared to take a shot. This game might have been a disappointment, but Dobson’s progress has to be encouraging.