4 Takeaways From Islanders’ 2-1 Win vs Canadiens

The New York Islanders entered Saturday night’s game desperate for a win. After four losses in a row, culminating with a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild where they allowed three unanswered goals in the third period, they defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 to return to the win column.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Islanders’ 3-1 Loss vs Wild – 1/12/2023

The win allowed the Islanders to earn their first victory of the five-game homestand. It wasn’t a convincing or decisive victory and against the Canadiens, they showed a lot of the weaknesses that have held them back this season, but it was good enough to earn a much-needed win.

Sorokin & Defense Lead the Way

Ilya Sorokin has been one of the best goaltenders in the league this season. He has a .926 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.29 goals-against average (GAA) on 934 shots along with 19.7 goals saved above average (GSAA), making him one of the Vezina Trophy frontrunners. However, despite his strong performances, the rest of the roster hasn’t helped him out, resulting in multiple losses. That changed against the Canadiens as the defense helped out Sorokin in a win where the Islanders only allowed one goal.

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

Sorokin saved 22 of the 23 shots he faced and the defense played a big role in the low-scoring win. They limited the Canadiens from finding scoring chances and prevented them from generating an attack throughout the game. Noah Dobson led the defensemen with three blocked shots, while Ryan Pulock, Alexander Romanov, and Sebastian Aho made great breakout passes to effectively exit the puck out of the defensive zone. The Islanders’ defensive unit has been a strength all season and after a few difficult games, the unit finally stepped up and carried the team to a victory.

Dobson & Mayfield Fuel Offense

The Islanders’ first goal came from a Dobson shot at the blue line that Casey Cizikas redirected into the back of the net. It was Dobson’s 16th assist and 26th point of the season, both of which lead defensemen on the team. His offensive production is essential to the Islanders’ success and his willingness to shoot the puck from the point helps open up the offense.

Along with Cizikas’ goal, the second goal came from a shot from the point. Scott Mayfield shot the puck through traffic to generate a rebound and an easy scoring opportunity for Anthony Beauvillier. Mayfield and Dobson combined for nine shots on goal and the two defensemen played a pivotal role in the offensive success. The forward unit has struggled recently and needs a spark in the offensive zone and the defensemen shooting the puck from the blue line provides that.

Beauvillier’s Big Goal

Against his hometown team, Beauvillier found the back of the net to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead. The goal was his first since the Dec. 23 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers and his ninth of the season. Beauvillier’s return to the scoresheet was a pleasant surprise but how he scored provides optimism for the upcoming games.

Anthony Beauvillier New York Islanders
Anthony Beauvillier, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Beauvillier’s goal came on a second-chance shot near the net. He skated to the crease and collected a rebound to find the easy goal with the Canadiens’ skaters out of position to stop him. Beauvillier is known for creating on the wing as a shooter by the faceoff circles and a puck-distributing forward. However, if he can start skating to the center of the offensive zone and look for rebounds, he can become one of the Islanders’ valued contributors.

Islanders Offense Continues to Struggle

The win has to be taken with a grain of salt. They scored two goals in the first period but then failed to score in the final 53 minutes of the game. In the second and third periods, the Islanders looked hapless in the offensive zone and almost allowed the Canadiens to come back and win.

It was another game where the offense struggled and against a Canadiens’ defense that allows 3.89 goals per game nonetheless. In the past five games, the Islanders have scored only seven goals. To make matters worse, the best forwards have disappeared in recent games. Brock Nelson hasn’t scored since the Dec. 17 5-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights. Mathew Barzal scored six goals in five games but hasn’t found the back of the net since the Jan. 5 game against the Edmonton Oilers. Zach Parise, who has the third-most goals on the team with 12, hasn’t scored since Jan. 6 against the Calgary Flames.

Brock Nelson New York Islanders
Brock Nelson, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The offense has been a liability and the primary reason for a 2-5 record this month. While it didn’t cost them in the recent game, the struggling offense will be the primary reason the Islanders miss the playoffs unless they turn things around.

Other Takeaways from Islanders Win

  • Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck combined for a goal and an assist to help lead the victory. The fourth line is back to full strength and helping carry the team not only with their forecheck but their offensive contributions as well.
  • Canadiens’ goaltender Sam Montembeault saves 36 shots to keep the game close. The Islanders’ offense struggled but Montembeault put together a strong performance and gave the Canadiens a chance to win.
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau earned his 15th assist with the Beauvillier goal. He has the fifth-most assists on the Islanders and continues to be a reliable contributor to the offense.

What’s Next for the Islanders

The homestand continues with a game against the Washington Capitals. While the Capitals have a 23-16-6 record, they are coming off back-to-back losses, including a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders can leap past them in the Metropolitan Division with a win, making the upcoming game a pivotal one for them.

The Islanders are finally out of their slump but they need to keep winning. The recent victory bumps them to fifth place in the Metropolitan Division but the Pittsburgh Penguins will remain competitive this season and the Islanders will need to get on a hot streak to remain a playoff team.