One of the hottest teams in the league, the Isles look to keep it rolling.
The New York Islanders have had a nice and fortunate stretch of schedule playing one of the worst teams in the league, the Buffalo Sabres, but credit must be given where it’s due.
The Islanders came into Sunday’s matinee against the Sabres having won four in a row, at the top of the East Division, and as one of the hottest teams in the league.
They’ve been playing elite hockey and would look to maintain this great play in their third-straight game against the Sabres.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The lineup would stay the same but Ilya Sorokin, who’s looked quite good lately, got the start in net.
1st period: Boring. We want goals.
The opening period wasn’t particularly eventful. The play was pretty even and neither team looked especially dominant.
However, the Islanders did end the period on a power play and would begin the second with about 50 seconds left on the man advantage.
The Islanders outshot the Sabres 7-6 in the first.
2nd period: Isles: Unleashed
The Islanders reverted to their scoring ways in the second. The team’s most consistent forward of the season, Anders Lee, did what he does best once again, getting the Islanders on the board with a goal in front of the net.
1:02 later, Brock Nelson made it 2-0. Nick Leddy continues to have an excellent season, both defensively and offensively, and both Oliver Wahlstrom and Nelson maintain their recent great play.
Finally, when did Casey Cizikas become a goal-scoring machine? The fourth-line center continues to kill the Sabres with points in three straight games. Jean-Gabriel Pageau as well as the new offensive defenseman Adam Pelech also stay hot.
The Islanders’ offense has been on fire, and this game was no different.
3rd period: 5-2 3 in a row?!
Things got too close for comfort for the Islanders to begin the period. Jeff Skinner, who had been underperforming badly, scored his first of the season to get the Sabres going.
They scored another one not long after on a goal that Sorokin definitely wants back. Suddenly, the Islanders’ lead had been cut to one, and Buffalo had all the momentum.
The Islanders’ fourth line then took advantage of some terrible defending, especially by Brandon Davidson, to make the lead comfortable again.
Cal Clutterbuck’s point streak against the Sabres continues, as well, with goals in back-to-back games. The same can be said for Matt Martin, who assisted Clutterbuck’s goal. The “Identity Line” has been outstanding in this three-game set.
Nelson then sealed the deal for the Islanders with an empty-net goal.
The Islanders have more than successfully completed a three-game set against one of the worst teams in the league, winning each game by a score of 5-2.
They don’t have the hardest of weeks coming up, but they’re going to need to play strong hockey in order to keep rolling.
Key Moment: Thank you, #88
The key moment of the game was the Islanders’ fourth goal that all but sealed the win. At that point, the Sabres had come within one and had all the momentum in their favor.
However, some truly awful defending by Davidson worked to the advantage of his opponents. This goal allowed the fans to breathe a sigh of relief and guaranteed the win.
It also highlighted the incredibly impressive play of the fourth line recently, but throughout this series, in particular.
Player of the game: Casey Cizikas
We talked about how well the Islanders’ fourth line had been playing. Cizikas being the best player on the ice this game is evidence of that.
Cizikas was solid defensively, as usual, but did especially well offensively. He’s been on fire and his success on this fantastic fourth line has been crucial to the overall success of the team.
His numbers: 15:39 TOI, 1 G, 56 CF%, 0.17 iXG, 2 blocks, 0.72 xGF, 0.36 xGA, 2.96 GF, 1.01 GA, 0.15 defensive rating, 1.58 offensive rating, and 0.94 individual rating.