Isles look to overcome season-long troubles vs. Pittsburgh Penguins after decisive win on Thursday.
The New York Islanders are coming off an incredible win against the very dangerous Boston Bruins on Thursday, in which they scored five unanswered goals in the third period.
Their performance against the Bruins represented their great play, as of late, and the momentum they’ve had after going through a rough stretch.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have given the Islanders a good deal of trouble this season: they’ve won three of four of these meetings. They’ve also been settling in and playing much better hockey lately.
Would the Islanders be able to build on Thursday’s huge win?
Ahead of the game, Michael Dal Colle was activated off the IR and made his return to the third line. Oliver Wahlstrom was recalled from the taxi squad and joined Dal Colle and Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the right.
Cal Clutterbuck, who was a game-time decision after suffering an injury against the Bruins, got the night off. Leo Komarov took his spot on the fourth line. Semyon Varlamov would look to continue his strong play in net.
1st period: Power Play Brock
Mathew Barzal has had a problem staying out of the box this season, and committed the first penalty of the game. He sure is lucky that he plays for a team with one of the best penalty kills in hockey.
Adam Pelech is another guy who’s had his share of penalty-related issues: he’s already served more penalty minutes this season than he did all of last season. He, too, was sent to the box this period.
The Islanders changed things up and were able to get a late power play for themselves. Brock Nelson continues to be a power play goal-scoring machine, and gave his team a big 1-0 lead heading into the second.
2nd period: Can you not…
Barzal made up for his penalty in the first by scoring an early goal in the second that took a lucky deflection off the stick of Penguins defenseman John Marino’s stick to get past Tristan Jarry.
Unfortunately, things wouldn’t stay this great for the Islanders. Wahlstrom took an unnecessary penalty and within seconds, Varlamov appeared to slip, leaving the net wide open for the lethal Sidney Crosby.
Seconds after that, Varlamov conceded another bad goal, this time to Kris Letang. Viewers couldn’t help but wonder if Varlamov had hurt himself on the wipeout.
Barzal went on to commit yet another penalty, but his team did a good job killing that off. Discipline has been a problem for the Islanders this game and prevented them from getting into a proper flow.
They were, by far, the more dominant team when they had a few minutes to get into a rhythm, but penalties kept stymieing that.
The Islanders showed off some beautiful tic-tac-toe hockey that culminated in a much-needed goal for Josh Bailey (his second of the season).
The Islanders went back to being the dominant team to end the period, putting some great pressure in front of the opposing net. Their number one goal for the third would be to stay out of the box.
3rd period: Ugh
Unfortunately, penalties wouldn’t be the reason the Islanders lose the lead. Seconds into the third, a defensive blunder allowed the Penguins to score the game-tying goal.
The third was pretty uneventful and this game would be headed to overtime. The Islanders really can’t get a regulation win against these guys.
Overtime: Penguins first and only lead
The Islanders had their chances in overtime, but Letang was too much for them this game.
Coming out with a point is always nice, but this was a game that the Islanders should have won. Two bad goals by Varlamov and a lack of discipline cost them a second point.
They’d look to do a much better job on all fronts on Sunday.
Key moment: Hey, Josh Bailey
Bailey’s goal that gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead was the key moment of the game. It broke the tie and was a big goal for Bailey, who was in the middle of a scoring drought.
The hope is that goal will help him break out of his slump and get him going offensively.
Player of the game: Brock Nelson
Nelson was the best player on the ice. He got the Islanders on the scoreboard first with a huge goal on a power play, where he’s been thriving.
Nelson’s numbers: 20:28 TOI, one goal, one assist, 0.62 iXG, 1.1 xGF, 0.59 xGA, 0.94 GF, 1.01 GA, 0.55 offensive rating, 1.64 individual rating, and 54.55 CF%.
Stats courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.