3 Takeaways From Islanders’ 2-0 Loss vs Coyotes – 11/10/22

The New York Islanders looked exhausted and almost overwhelmed on Thursday night. After two come-from-behind wins against the Calgary Flames and New York Rangers on back-to-back nights, the team came crashing back to earth. The Islanders lost to the Arizona Coyotes 2-0 in a game that was scoreless through 40 minutes and saw the second goal come in the final minute on an empty net.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Islanders 4-3 Win vs Rangers – 11/8/22

With the loss, the Islanders’ winning streak was snapped but more importantly, the team has been humbled. While they still have a strong record at 9-6, the loss proved that any opponent can catch them by surprise and if the Islanders aren’t careful, they can fall in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Islanders’ Penalty Kill Costs Them

The Islanders’ penalty kill has been a strength all season, notably killing the first 28 opportunities until they allowed a shorthanded goal in the 5-4 win against the Colorado Avalanche. From the defensemen stepping up to forwards like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Casey Cizikas effectively controlling the puck, the unit has helped the Islanders limit opponents from finding the back of the net. However, recently, the penalty kill has cooled off, allowing seven goals including two in the 4-3 win over the Rangers.

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Against the Coyotes, the unit made the one mistake that ended up costing them. To start the third period, the Islanders allowed Travis Boyd to find open ice right in front of the net and with quick puck movement, net the first and most decisive goal of the game. In a game where both offenses were struggling, it was an error they couldn’t afford to have and the Coyotes took advantage, creating an effective shot on the net and finding an easy goal.

Sorokin Keeps Islanders in the Game

The bright spot in the 2-0 loss was the strong play the Islanders received from their goaltender Ilya Sorokin. In a game that was controlled by the defenses and the two goaltenders, he made 26 saves including some remarkable ones to keep the game close. While the performance wasn’t as impressive as his 43-save game against the Flames or the 41-save shutout against the Rangers, the game still showed why he is one of the best in the league.

Ilya Sorokin New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ultimately, the Islanders lost, largely because of their struggles offensively but the game proved that they always have a chance to win with Sorokin in the net. Even when they are trailing, they know that he can and will keep the game close and allow them to come back. They will remain competitive this season and continue to pile up the wins, and the reliable play in the net on a nightly basis will be a primary reason why.

Islanders Hit a Wall in Vejmelka

The Islanders had plenty of scoring chances and generated more than enough shots on goal to tie and possibly win the game. Unfortunately, Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka put together one of his best performances of the season, saving 24 shots in the 2-0 shutout. His stats as a goaltender, specifically his 3.41 goals-against average (GAA) and .908 save percentage (SV%) are deceiving considering the 327 shots he’s faced, which are second-most in the NHL. Moreover, in recent starts he’s looked like one of the league’s better goaltenders, allowing only three goals on 69 shots faced in his last two games, and the Islanders saw firsthand how he can blank a potent offense.

Granted, the Islanders missed more than enough shots and squandered a handful of scoring chances. Likewise, they were more effective at moving and creating open shots after starting the game slowly. However, this game was one where the puck wasn’t bouncing their way and more importantly, the Coyotes’ goaltender was dialed in.

Other Takeaways from the Islanders’ Loss

  • The power play went 0-3 and has only scored eight goals on 45 opportunities this season. After the unit scored two goals in the previous game, it looked like the Islanders turned a corner but the loss to the Coyotes proved otherwise.
  • Noah Dobson led the team with 22:13 of ice time and generated three shots on the net. On a rough night for the team, he was one of the bright spots who stepped up and put together a strong game.
  • The Islanders have won seven of their last nine games but in each of the two losses, they were shut out. This season when they’ve struggled, they’ve looked hapless, especially on the offensive end of the ice. It’s a reflection of the Lane Lambert-coached team which will have more highs but also can fall flat, as they did against the Coyotes.

What’s Next for the Islanders

The Islanders cap off their short homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets. While the Blue Jackets are coming off a big 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, they have struggled this season. They have a 4-9 record and are in last place in the Metropolitan Division and as a result, the Islanders have to take advantage.

The Islanders have to take their recent loss as a wake-up call. On any given night, they can lose to even a team that is perceived as a weaker opponent, especially if they play down to the opponent. The Blue Jackets, like the Coyotes, are an opponent the Islanders can’t take lightly and will have to put together a strong performance to defeat.

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