The New York Islanders had a bittersweet start to their five-game road trip. They lost 4-3 to the Boston Bruins, the best team in the Eastern Conference, but managed to earn a point by forcing the game into overtime and ultimately losing in the shootout. The Islanders were looking to win the first game of their road trip but considering they were outplayed, will take the point from the recent shootout loss.
Related: 3 Takeaways From Islanders’ 3-0 Loss vs Hurricanes – 12/10/22
With the defeat, the Islanders move to 17-12-1 and are currently tied with the New York Rangers for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. The five-game road trip is off to a rocky start but the recent game showed a lot of promising signs that the Islanders will look to as they prepare for the rest of this pivotal road trip that could define the season.
Dobson’s Big Night
Noah Dobson helped fuel the comeback with his much-needed spark from the blue line. With the Islanders trailing 2-0, he fired the puck from the point and Josh Bailey redirected it into the back of the net for the team’s first goal. Moreover, the goal allowed the Islanders to enter the first intermission with some momentum.
Halfway through the second period, Dobson tied it up with a slapshot from along the boards that hit the post but found the back of the net. While the Bruins responded later in the period and took a 3-2 lead, his playmaking from the point helped the Islanders climb back into the game. After losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 and falling behind 2-0 in the recent game, they looked poised for another lopsided loss but their top-scoring defenseman helped turn things around.
Following his performance against the Bruins, Dobson has nine goals and 11 assists on the season. His 11 assists are tied with Ryan Pulock for the most on the defensive unit but his nine goals not only lead the unit but are also tied with Anders Lee and Zach Parise for second-most on the team. Dobson is having a remarkable year and along with stepping up in the defensive zone, he’s continuing to fuel the offense from the point.
Islanders Short Bench Steps Up
The recent game tested the forwards from the opening puck drop until the final horn in overtime. The Islanders entered this game without Anthony Beauvillier or Kyle Palmieri, two skaters that traveled with the team but weren’t on the roster. To make things more difficult for the forwards, Oliver Wahlstrom took a hit in the first period and missed a few shifts, forcing the Islanders to play with multiple line combinations in his absence.
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However, despite the short bench, the Islanders managed to come back from a two-goal deficit and tie the game at three in the third period. Interestingly enough, the third-period goal was scored by Casey Cizikas with Hudson Fasching and Brock Nelson on his line, an unusual combination but one that showed the versatility of the forwards and the team’s ability to adapt to any situation.
Slow Start Almost Dooms Islanders
The Islanders aren’t a good first-period team, scoring only 17 goals while allowing 20. Against the Bruins, the slow start nearly cost them the game. They allowed the Bruins to earn a power play six minutes into the game where Jake Debrusk scored the team’s first goal and 19 seconds later, scored again taking advantage of the Islanders on a quick rush to the net. The early 2-0 deficit nearly put the game out of reach and forced the team to claw their way back just to earn a point in a 4-3 shootout loss.
Varlamov’s Performance Helps Team Earn a Point
The game against the Bruins was one of the best performances of the season from goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Granted, he shut out the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 4 and made 40 saves in a 4-3 win against the New York Rangers on Nov. 8, but against the Bruins, he helped keep the game close. Varlamov allowed three goals but looked sharp and made a handful of crucial saves to allow the Islanders to earn a point.
Varlamov saved 30 of the 33 shots he faced and particularly stepped up in the third period to allow the Islanders to come back. Moreover, in the final five minutes of the game, the Bruins generated plenty of scoring chances and looked poised to score the game-winner in regulation but were constantly denied by Varlamov. The Islanders have been carried by their goaltending throughout the season and the duo of Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin will play a pivotal role in allowing the team to continue to have a strong road trip and a successful season.
Other Takeaways from Islanders’ Shootout Loss
- The power play not only struggled but set the team back. The unit went 0-3 and allowed a shorthanded goal late in the second period that almost cost them the game.
- Nelson had a big night on offense. He had two assists and led the forwards with 21:34 of ice time. In a game where the Islanders needed their best players to step up, Nelson did just that to start the road trip off on the right foot.
- Alexander Romanov stepped up on the defensive end of the ice. With five hits, five blocked shots, and 25:15 of ice time, which led all skaters, he played a pivotal role in the close game.
What’s Next for the Islanders
The road trip continues with a back-to-back against the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights. The Coyotes are one of the worst teams in the NHL with a 9-13-4 record but they defeated the Islanders earlier in the season with a 2-0 shutout. The Golden Knights on the other hand are 21-9-1 and have the best record in the Western Conference, making them arguably the toughest opponent on the road trip.
The Islanders’ start to the five-game road trip was a mixed bag. They struggled and were outplayed by the opposition but earned a point against arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference. While they’ll take the point, the big thing moving forward is for the Islanders to win enough games to keep pace with the rest of the Metropolitan Division.