The streak reached 10 games, but the New York Islanders lost their first game in nearly a month on Thursday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. They still managed to pick up a total of five out of a possible six points and sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Islanders started the week with a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. They then had a 3-0 lead against the Penguins, but let it get away and fell in overtime on a goal by Bryan Rust. However, they bounced back Saturday defeating the Florida Panthers 2-1.
Let’s take a look at the three best players from this past week.
Third Star: Cal Clutterbuck
It took a bit of time, but the Islanders’ fourth line, even without Matt Martin, showed why it is has been so good these past few seasons. While he normally plays well in the defensive zone, Clutterbuck scored goals one and two of the season.
Less than a minute after the Senators took a 1-0 lead, Clutterbuck picked up a loose puck in front of the net and scored his first goal of the season. Later in the game, he would help set up a shorthanded goal by Casey Cizikas and then score shorthanded two nights later against the Penguins.
With Martin out, Clutterbuck has been playing on the right wing with Cizikas and Michael Dal Colle. With the injuries piling up for the Islanders, Clutterbuck’s minutes have climbed and has been a big part of the run that New York is on.
Second Star: Casey Cizikas
It would only be fitting that if Clutterbuck had a strong week, Cizikas would join him. The two each had their shorthanded goals, as the Islanders’ penalty kill has not only done a good job of keeping the puck out of the net, they have scored big goals down a man.
Cizikas set up both of Clutterbuck’s goals and then scored 19 seconds into the game on Thursday against Pittsburgh. Head coach Barry Trotz likes to start the Cizikas line most periods to set the tempo with their physical play. They were rewarded with an early goal in a game where New York was able to grab a point against the Penguins.
Like Clutterbuck, Cizikas’ time on ice has increased as he has played despite missing significant time with an injury against Florida. He has also been terrific at faceoffs, as he won 76 percent versus the Senators.
First Star: Thomas Greiss
He may not play every game, but there is no goaltender in the league that is hotter than Thomas Greiss. The German picked up two more wins as he has won seven of his first eight starts this season.
He currently ranks first in the league with a .942 save percentage and first in goals against at 1.88. Greiss allowed two goals in his two starts this week, stopping 62 of 64 shots in the two games.
The lone goals to beat him came on a giveaway right in front of the net by Ryan Pulock and then a power play goal scored by Aleksander Barkov. While the Islanders will likely continue their rotation in net with Semyon Varlamov, Greiss has definitely sparked some discussion of whether he should be the number one guy these next few weeks.
We saw that last year, when Greiss played well, where he would start multiple games in a row, but it’s hard to imagine Trotz does not continue to do what is working. Only once this season has Greiss allowed more than two goals in a game.
The weird schedule for the Islanders will continue as they will have three consecutive off days for the third time in the past four weeks. They will also play their final game of their season-long four-game homestand on Wednesday when the Islanders welcome in John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If last year was any indication, the Islanders’ faithful will be loud and tough on their former captain in the Maple Leafs’ only visit to the Coliseum this season.
Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor degree in journalism. Originally from Long Island, he moved to Parkland shortly after high school. Matt worked as the assistant sports editor for his school paper, eaglenews.com in college becoming just one of nine students in his graduation class to serve over 1,000 community service hours. His goal is to travel to every Major League Baseball stadium, and has been to multiple US Open finals.