The Islanders still can’t snap this lengthy losing streak.
They’ve seen better days and it’s been ugly for the team that played in the Eastern Conference Finals not five months ago.
Head coach Barry Trotz is clearly tired of losing and decided to change things up ahead of game two of a back-to-back with the team he beat in the second round of the 2020 playoffs.
Michael Dal Colle got the nod over Leo Komarov, who’s been noticeably awful. Rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin would be making his third career NHL start. Austin Czarnik and Dmytro Timashov were called up to make their Islanders debuts.
So how did the addition of some new faces and changing up the lines work out for the Isles?
1st period: They didn’t deserve to be down
The Islanders were the better team in the first period. The first ten minutes of the game weren’t very eventful, but things got exciting in the second half.
With just under 10 minutes left, Adam Pelech was sent to the box for elbowing, giving the Flyers the first power play of the game. Sorokin made a wonderful save on a shot that Jakub Voráček couldn’t believe didn’t go in.
Immediately after, Brock Nelson was booked for hooking, leaving the Islanders with three players. They looked great on this penalty kill and were rewarded with a power play.
Overall, it was a good power play until the end, when Kevin Hayes had the chance to score a short-handed goal. The Islanders caught a break when his shot hit the post.
With 1:18 left, Joel Farabee scored a goal, but it appeared to be the result of a missed icing call. The Islanders played a solid period and really didn’t deserve to be down after one.
2nd period: Well, this isn’t pretty
As was just noted, the Islanders played too well in the first to be down and were able to tie it up immediately with a power play goal scored by Nick Leddy.
Unfortunately, the score wouldn’t hold up. Bad defense and poor goaltending allowed Farabee to score his second of the night.
Shortly after, Mathew Barzal turned over the puck and then committed a holding penalty trying to get it back.
Lucky for the team, and him, it was a good kill. A hard hit by Cal Clutterbuck resulted in the puck getting down the ice, and a shot on goal by Pelech was cleverly sent out by veteran goalie Brian Elliott.
Casey Cizikas did some great work behind the Flyers net to get the puck and even drew a penalty in the process. He passed it to Clutterbuck, who had a wide open net but missed wide.
The Islanders’ power play was terrible and the Flyers had two short-handed chances, the second of which was saved well by Sorokin with his blocker.
With about 7:40 left, Jean-Gabriel Pageau made a nice pass to Dal Colle, whose quick shot hit the post, a common occurrence in this game. This was a nice shift by the Islanders, who played hard and had some good chances.
About 16 minutes into the period, Phillippe Myers took a shot that was deflected in by Farabee, who recorded the first hat-trick of his career.
At this point, the Islanders looked like they were a period or so away from their fifth straight loss.
3rd period: They’re still alive!
The Islanders kicked off their second straight period with a quick goal. This one was scored by Josh Bailey, who hadn’t been playing well and needed a moment like this. He has Ryan Pulock‘s lethal shot to thank, one that he deflected well into the net.
A defensive blunder by the Flyers with over 13 minutes left allowed the dangerous Anders Lee and Barzal to have a two-on-one. There was no way Barzal was missing this, and he didn’t.
Halfway through the period, the Islanders were given another chance on the power play, which was mediocre.
In the final three minutes, Sorokin made a game-saving save that kept the Islanders alive and sent them to overtime.
Overtime: OT is unkind to the Isles
The beginning of overtime was characterized by pretty sloppy play by both sides. They had good scoring chances, but poor finishing and good goaltending prevented both teams from scoring.
Barzal’s inability to stay out of the box was the dagger in New York’s heart. With 1:20 left, he was booked for high-sticking, and Hayes was able to send his team home on a power play goal that the Islanders could’ve defended better.
The Islanders looked better in this game than they had in some time, but there’s still a great deal that needs to be worked on if they hope to get back to the top of the division.
Key Moment: What a save, Sorokin!
The Islanders had several great moments, but the best was Sorokin’s fantastic glove save on the penalty kill in the first period. He showed off his lateral movement and quick reaction and seemed to have surprised everyone on the ice with that save.
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) February 1, 2021
The save was remarkable, but it also kept the game tied and gave the Islanders momentum to kill the penalty well and play encouraging hockey.
Player of the game: Mathew Barzal
Barzal did serve multiple penalties and technically lost the Islanders the game, but he was their best player on the ice. This is nothing new.
Barzal had a goal and an assist and was impactful up and down the ice throughout the game. If he can stay out of the box, he’ll be unstoppable.