Islanders 3 Takeaways From 4-3 Loss to Canucks – 3/3/22

The New York Islanders started their six-game homestand with another tough loss. They boasted a 3-2 lead in the third period for the second game in a row but lost to the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 for their second consecutive loss.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Islanders’ 5-Game Road Trip

The Islanders have only won 20 of their 51 games and have only won three of their last 10 games. After another tough loss, the team remains in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division and outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, indicating that general manager Lou Lamoriello and the front office will likely trade away some veteran players at the deadline. The loss also revealed some of the underlying issues that have cost the Islanders all season while also showing a few bright spots that have kept them competitive.

Varlamov’s Tough Night

Semyon Varlamov started his 15th game and second game since returning from the COVID-19 list, giving Ilya Sorokin a much-needed night off. It looked like he was playing his best game of the season as the Canucks were finding open shots but being denied by the veteran goaltender, keeping the game scoreless after the first period.

Semyon Varlamov New York Islanders
Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After the Islanders took the lead, the tough bounces started to get past Varlamov. The Canucks found quick scoring chances and caught Varlamov off guard, while J.T. Miller redirected the puck into the back of the net. Vancouver scored twice to take the lead, and when the Islanders controlled the game in the final period, the game unraveled for the veteran goaltender.

The Canucks scored two goals in 45 seconds, and suddenly, it was a four-goal game for Varlamov, the second start in a row that he surrendered four goals. Vancouver had 38 shots, and Varlamov made 34 saves, but it was another performance that was defined by the few mistakes. It’s unclear if the 33-year-old veteran will be traded in the upcoming weeks or if he will remain part of the team long-term, but he has failed to find a rhythm this season and once again let the Islanders down in a tough loss.

Barzal’s Absence is Felt

Mathew Barzal has been out of the lineup for the past three games with a lower-body injury. While the Islanders’ offense has stepped up in his absence, scoring three goals or more in each of the last three games, it’s clear they miss their top-line forward. Against the Canucks, the Islanders failed to create scoring chances in the offensive zone from the forward unit and also had trouble carrying the puck into the offensive zone, which Barzal is one of the best at on the team. The Islanders might be without one of their best players for longer than anticipated, and the inability to move the puck in the offensive zone will worsen on an already struggling offense.

Dobson & Offense from the Blue Line

Noah Dobson started the scoring for the Islanders with another great shot from the point that zipped through traffic and found the back of the net. The 22-year-old defenseman scored his 10th goal of the season and is outscoring the rest of his team’s defensive unit, which has only scored nine goals this season. More importantly, Dobson is continuing to emerge as one of the league’s best young scoring defensemen and will continue to open up the Islanders’ offense from the blue line.

Noah Dobson New York Islanders
Noah Dobson, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In addition to Dobson, the Islanders continued to find production in the offensive zone from their defensemen helping out from the point. Their second goal was created off a won face-off and a set play that took advantage of defenseman Adam Pelech’s quick passing. Pelech found Kyle Palmieri open in the center of the offensive zone and sent him a quick pass to catch Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko out of position. Since the return from the All-Star break, a lot of the team’s offensive production has come from the blue line, which has helped out an offense that has struggled, averaging only 2.54 goals per game.

Other Notes from the Islanders’ Loss

The Islanders continued to find goals from their lower lines, with Anthony Beauvillier and Palmieri both finding the back of the net. Palmieri has started to find his offensive touch, scoring in back-to-back games, and has six goals in the last nine games with effective shots on the net. However, the pleasant surprise was seeing Beauvillier create a turnover in the offensive zone for a quick goal, scoring for the first time since the Feb. 11 loss against the Edmonton Oilers.

New York’s next two games are against two of the best teams in the Western Conference in the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche. Both games will be at home but against two teams that can quickly pile on the goals and overwhelm any opponent. The Islanders are slowly seeing their playoff chances dwindle and will need to step up in the upcoming games to make up ground in the Eastern Conference.

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