Entering last weekend with a 1-3 record, the New York Islanders have gone on to win four-straight games in the last seven days. This was highlighted by two overtime wins as well as a shootout victory against the Florida Panthers. The two overtime wins came against the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. They also had a win over the Winnipeg Jets which completed a season sweep, as the Islanders won 4-1 on Oct. 6 and then a 3-1 win 10 days later.
With the offense starting to show some signs of life and the goaltending improving, head coach Barry Trotz can definitely be proud of how his team responded to a tough start, as they currently sit in the second wildcard. We take a look at the three stars of the week.
Third Star: Devon Toews
In his short career, Toews is starting to have a knack for overtime goals. He scored his first career goal in the extra session last year against the Chicago Blackhawks and did so again Monday for his first goal of the season. He is just one of 12 active players to have scored two overtime goals in the calendar year.
While Toews has been one of the highest regarded defensive prospects in the Islanders’ system, injuries have plagued him for much of his career, limiting him to just 54 NHL games. Along with his goal, he also assisted on Mat Barzal’s power-play tally versus the Jets and played over 18 minutes in all three games.
Second Star: Brock Nelson
There are few guys in the league that have owned the month of October as well as No. 29 on the Islanders. Nelson has 51 points in 68 October games and most recently earned the Islanders’ their fourth straight win with his fourth goal of the season on a beautiful play set up by Nick Leddy and Anthony Beauvillier.
Earlier in the week, Nelson had the opening goals in both games against the Panthers and Jets and the lone goal in a shootout win, as the Islanders honored their 1979-80 team. As of now, he has a team-leading four goals and seven points.
First Star: Mat Barzal
The Islanders have been waiting for their superstar to get going and he definitely did leading his team with four goals in his last three contests. His first goal came with under a minute left in regulation against the Blues to force overtime. He then factored into the deciding goal setting up Toews from the slot for the winner.
He continued his strong week by scoring twice Friday night against Winnipeg with the first coming on the power play. Later in the night, he scored with under 20 seconds left in the second period in what turned out to be the game-winning goal. He then opened the scoring against the Blue Jackets. After only one point in the first four games, he now has seven on the season.
While the Islanders have yet to stick to a starting goaltender, both Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov each earned two wins in the past week. The two of them have not allowed more than two goals any of these games and have stopped 122 of the last 129 shots after each goalie had a rough game in the first week of the season.
Up next, the Islanders will have four off days to recover before they welcome in the Arizona Coyotes for the start of a back-to-back. They travel to face the Ottawa Senators following the game Thursday and finish the weekend with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders will need their goaltending to continue to play strong, as the injury bug has hit both Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas this week resulting in both players going on injured reserve.
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.