Can Islanders break Penguins curse?
The New York Islanders have been playing great hockey lately, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have their number. They can’t seem to beat them and suffered yet another loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
They did come out of the game with a point, but they expect more. Could they finally come up with a win against this Penguins team on Sunday? The lineup was the same, but Ilya Sorokin would be making his first ever start at Nassau Coliseum.
1st period: Wahlstrom where Mama keeps the cookies
The Islanders were, by far, the more dominant team to begin the game. Sorokin wasn’t busy in net and the Islanders had many offensive chances.
The Islanders were able to take a 1-0 lead before the period ended, and that was a testament to their great play.
Oliver Wahlstrom, who’s been playing very well as of late, scored a beautiful goal on a power play. It was an Alex Ovechkin-like shot that Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith had no chance on.
Wahlstrom is proving that he deserves to be used in high-leverage situations such as the power play.
2nd period: Come on, refs
Since when are the Islanders so good on the power play?
Since improving their overall play over the past few weeks, the Islanders have looked like a different team on the power play, which had been a weakness.
Great puck movement and awareness led to a huge goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who’s now tied for the team lead in goals with nine.
This also marked two assists on the day for Josh Bailey, who’s seen an offensive resurgence, as of late.
The Islanders were on the penalty kill later in the period when they fell victim to an officiating blunder.
Casey Cizikas made a great play to take control of the puck, but was slashed by Jake Guentzel on the breakaway. The referees, however, didn’t give him a penalty shot.
The missed call was unfortunate, but the Islanders were looking solid and this was their game to lose.
3rd period: Shutout for Sorokin
The third period was highlighted by multiple penalties on both sides, but the Islanders were able to hold their own and prevent the Penguins from scoring. Sorokin was noticeably good on the final power play of the game.
Sorokin wasn’t particularly busy in this game, for the most part, but held his own and became jus the second rookie goalie in franchise history to record back-to-back shutouts.
This was a big win for the Islanders, who were finally able to overcome this obstacle of constantly losing to the Penguins this season. They’ve been rolling lately and have a serious chance of winning this tough division.
Key Moment: Wahlstrom’s goal
The key moment of the game was Wahlstrom’s power play goal.
For one, it was beautiful.
Secondly, it was the Islanders’ first goal of the game. It got them on the board and they built on it.
Third, it came on the power play, which has been excellent over the past month or so.
And fourth, it’s a testament to how well Wahlstrom has been playing and how much head coach Barry Trotz is coming to trust him in high-leverage situations.
Player of the game: Adam Pelech
Adam Pelech didn’t record a point this game, but he looked strong in all three periods. Pelech isn’t known for his offense, but he’s been impactful in that regard lately.
He was excellent defensively in this game, as he almost always is, but was shockingly even better offensively.
His numbers: 20:30 TOI, 65.85 CF%, 0.45 iXG, 1.47 xGF, 0.51 xGA, 0 GF, 0 GA, 0.78 defensive rating, and 1.05 offensive rating.
Pelech plays alongside Ryan Pulock, who’s a fantastic offensive defenseman. If the Islanders can get offensive contributions as well as elite defensive play from this pairing, the league is in trouble.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.