The New York Islanders won their first game at UBS Arena and their seventh game on the season with a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Islanders earned their second win in three games and now have earned points in five of the last six games as they continue to make up ground in the Metropolitan Division. The recent victory was a great performance from the entire roster as the defensive unit held the Devils scoreless in the second period and the third period of action while goaltender Ilya Sorokin continued his remarkable start to the season.
However, recently, the offense has particularly stood out for the Islanders, scoring four goals in the win against the Devils and 12 goals in the last three games combined. Head coach Barry Trotz has a lot to look forward to based on the recent game, especially with how the Islanders were able to generate offense and the veteran skaters that stood out in the win.
Whether the recent game was a revenge game or not, the former Devils led the way in the victory for the Islanders. Veteran defenseman Andy Greene scored his first goal of the season and tied the game at two in the second period, returning the momentum that was previously lost in the game following a Jack Hughes goal late in the first period.
Greene has never been a scoring defenseman in his career, with his career-high for goals in a season being eight back in the 2013-14 season. However, in his 17th year in the NHL, the veteran defenseman knows when to take a shot and help out the offense. This season, with the Islanders’ offense struggling until the recent games, veteran defensemen like Greene are going to play a pivotal role in the team’s success and rebound, especially offensively with instinctive shots or quick passes from the blue line.
Later on, in the second period, Zach Parise found the back of the net on a breakaway chance for his first goal of the season. The former Devil made his mark early on in his career scoring on breakaway chances and in the shootout with quick moves to catch the goaltender out of position and while Parise doesn’t have the same burst or ability, he reminded the Islanders that he can find the back of the net, and the scoring chances that missed the net early on in the season were a sign that the goals would follow later on.
The Parise goal gave the Islanders the lead but also was scored shorthanded, putting a dagger into the Devils and their struggling power play. Since the start of the season, the Islanders have looked for goals in the later forward lines, with the back half of the forward unit struggling to score. With Jean-Gabriel Pageau recently catching fire, scoring in the 4-2 win and in three of the last four games, and Parise now generating shots and possibly starting to find the back of the net, the team is looking forward to an offensive surge and a possible hot streak as well.
Islanders Defensemen Opening the Offense
The Islanders’ offense scored four goals for the second time in three games and continue to find their offense with great shots through traffic and from the point. Noah Dobson scored the first goal of the game and his third goal of the season, leading the defensive unit, with a shot on the power play that wasn’t detected by young Devils goaltender Akira Schmid, who was making his NHL debut in the game. The goal from Dobson indicates to Trotz that the 21-year-old defensemen should remain on the power-play unit moving forward, but also that the offense as a whole is more effective with strong play from the point.
Similarly, the goal by Greene was scored from the point with excellent passing in the offensive zone by Mathew Barzal, who distributed two assists on the night, as well as Josh Bailey. Greene was given the space at the point to generate the shot on goal and took advantage, and while the Islanders defensemen aren’t going to necessarily create the scoring production in the offensive zone, they can continue to open up the offense, something the team will need moving forward.
Along with the great play from the point, the Islanders particularly took advantage of great passes in the offensive zone. This was highlighted by Oliver Wahlstrom’s cross-ice pass to Pageau to score the fourth goal of the game. Like Barzal, Wahlstrom also distributed two assists and is emerging as one of the team’s best scorers this season, allowing the Islanders to open up the offense and find the back of the net with quick shots. The great play from the 21-year-old forward will force Trotz to give him more than the 9:49 ice time that was received in the win over the Devils and play a greater role in the offense altogether.
Islanders Other Notes From the Win Over the Devils
The offense has stepped up in recent games, helping out the defense and goaltending that carried the Islanders earlier in the season. However, the Islanders continued to receive great play in the net with Ilya Sorokin saving 30 of the 32 Devils shots including all four shots on the power play. Throughout the season, Sorokin has been the team’s best player and one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, with a .925 save percentage and a 2.49 goals-against average on 545 shots. Ultimately, the team has a tough road back into the playoff picture and the Metropolitan Division but after the recent win, it’s clear that the pieces are in place to string together enough wins to make that push.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink has written for multiple sports blogs and platforms covering the NHL, NFL, MLB, and college sports. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_thoughts for more Islanders and general hockey insights.