The New York Islanders continued their two-game homestand following the trade deadline and easily defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Avoiding the season sweep, the Islanders jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first and held a 3-0 lead entering the final period in a game that the home team controlled all facets of play from the opening puck drop.
Related: 3 Takeaways From Islanders’ Shutout Win Over Senators
The Islanders have now won 28 of their 62 games and remain in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. However, they have also won their last six games at UBS Arena and have turned their home ice into a distinct advantage. Moreover, the team has turned their season around with seven wins in their last nine games and looked poised to finish the season strong and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Nelson’s Two-Goal Night
Veteran forward Brock Nelson continues to find the back of the net with 29 goals on the season and 10 in the last 11 games. Against the Red Wings, Nelson created scoring chances in the offensive zone and caught the opposing goaltender off guard with quick shots on net, scoring twice in the decisive victory.
Nelson’s first goal came on the power play when he hesitated and fired a shot while falling to the ice. The quick movement caught the former Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss by surprise and gave the team a commanding three-goal lead. His second goal was the team’s fifth of the night and displayed how he can open up the offense. He passed the puck on the odd-man rush to an open Anders Lee, who quickly found Anthony Beauvillier skating on the opposite wing only to get the puck back to the 30-year-old forward for the easy goal.
Nelson has recently played alongside Lee and Beauviller, and the line change has paid off immensely. Pairing the Islanders’ two leading goal scorers gives their shift two skaters who can not only find the open shooter in the offensive zone but take advantage of scoring chances and find the back of the net. Lee, who has 24 goals, didn’t score but assisted on three goals against the Red Wings, including both of Nelson’s.
Bailey & Beauviller End Scoring Droughts
It didn’t take long for Beauvillier to end his 10-game scoring drought in this matchup. The 24-year-old found a quick shot in the center of the offensive zone after a forced turnover and scored the Islanders’ first goal only nine seconds into the game. It was his 10th goal of the season, and he will emerge as one of the team’s top forwards, especially if he continues to benefit from Lee and Nelson’s playmaking skills in the offensive zone.
Josh Bailey’s scoring drought lasted six games before his goal against the Red Wings, but finding the back of the net was more of a relief in a rough season for the 31-year-old. Bailey has seven goals and has struggled to finish his scoring chances. Kyle Palmieri dropped the puck off to the veteran forward in the offensive zone for a shot that couldn’t be stopped by goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic – who filled for Greiss in the final period – gave the Islanders a 4-0 lead. The team put together another great game offensively, especially throughout the forward lines, which is a promising sign for head coach Barry Trotz and the coaching staff.
Sorokin’s Big Night
Semyon Varlamov started Tuesday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators — when the veteran goaltender put together his first shutout of the season — so Ilya Sorokin started another game well-rested. The young goaltender looked sharp and blanked the Red Wings’ shots in hopes of earning his seventh shutout of the season. He allowed two goals in the final seven minutes of the game to lose the shutout, but otherwise, he was phenomenal, saving 37 of 39 shots and preventing a Detroit comeback. The Islanders’ goaltenders have rotated starts since Varlamov’s return to the lineup, and the extra rest has benefitted the 26-year-old as he continues to give the team great performances.
Other Notes From Islanders’ 5-2 Win
Oliver Wahlstrom continued to play with Mathew Barzal and Zach Parise, allowing the young forward to use his skill set and make his mark on offense. Playing alongside Barzal, in particular, has allowed Wahlstrom to take advantage of open ice in the offensive zone and find open shots on net. The 21-year-old scored his 12th goal of the season against the Red Wings after his 23-year-old linemate carried the puck into the offensive zone, drawing the opposition to him to create the shooting lane.
The Islanders’ next two games are against the Boston Bruins on Saturday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Both teams are among the best in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, but the Islanders will look to step up and continue to earn points as part of their late-season resurgence.