4 Takeaways From Islanders’ 7-1 Win Versus Ducks

After the 3-1 loss on opening night to the Florida Panthers, the New York Islanders needed a bounce-back performance. Not only did they earn their first win of the season, but they also made a statement. The Islanders scored seven goals, including three in the second period in a dominant win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Related: 4 Takeaways From New York Islanders’ 3-1 Loss to Panthers – 10/13/22

The win was a dominant one in all facets of the game as the Islanders took control of the game early and never looked back, ending up with a 7-1 final score. For the Islanders, the performance spoke volumes about how the team thrives and how they will have success this season.

Islanders Defensemen Fueling the Offense

Scott Mayfield opened the scoring by finishing a scoring chance near the crease. In the second period, he found his second goal of the night with a shot from the blue line that gave the Islanders a commanding 4-0 lead. Along with Mayfield, who only scored three goals last season, finding the back of the net, Robin Salo scored twice in the final period of play, while Noah Dobson added a goal in the win as well.

Scott Mayfield New York Islanders
Scott Mayfield, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Five of the Islanders’ seven goals were scored by defensemen. The scoring surge in the win was already shocking, but the defensive unit fueling the offense was particularly surprising. The unit only scored 32 goals last season with Dobson scoring 13 of them.

While surprising, it’s not a coincidence. Rather, the defensemen finding the back of the net reflects the vision of first-year head coach Lane Lambert and the new coaching staff. Throughout the game, the defensemen would join the forwards on the rush, often creating three-on-one opportunities with the hope of finding open shots in the offensive zone or loose pucks near the net. The emphasis from the coaching staff is that the defensemen need to take more risks and play more aggressively to help out the offense.

Wahlstrom’s Return

Oliver Wahlstrom missed the opening night game as he was recovering from an injury he suffered in training camp. This season is a big one for the Islanders’ young forward, who is playing in the final year of his entry-level contract and he is looking to make a strong impression.

In the second period, Wahlstrom found his big scoring chance and took advantage. Following a turnover, he had a breakaway with only Ducks goaltender John Gibson in his path. Once Gibson moved his blocker and exposed the top shelf, Wahlstrom made his move and elevated the puck to give the Islanders a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Wahlstrom’s goal allowed him to return to the lineup in style but it’s also a possible sign of things to come. While he played a limited role in the game, with only 9:44 ice time, his speed and ability to make plays on the rush were on full display. In the Islanders’ new system, Wahlstrom can continue to use his speed to both help out the offense and optimize his skill set.

Islanders Generate 38 Shots on the Net

Among the many differences between the Barry Trotz-led teams and the Lambert-led one is the number of shots the Islanders are willing to take. The Islanders outshot the Ducks 38-23 in the 7-1 victory. Just two games into the season, the team has outshot their opposition twice and is averaging 35.5 shots per game, a strong contrast from the 28.8 they averaged last season.

Lane Lambert New York Islanders
Lane Lambert, head coach of the New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The islanders aren’t just outshooting their opponents, they’re doing so early and often. In the first period against the Ducks, they won the shot battle 13-6 as they built a strong 2-0 lead. The Islanders found open ice in the offensive zone and took advantage, aggressively sending the puck to the net and daring Gibson to make a surplus of saves.

The great night from the defensemen notably went hand in hand with the extra shots on the goal. Dobson scored his goal from point with the puck making its way through traffic, while both of Salo’s goals came from open looks on the net and the willingness to shoot the puck. Overall, the aggressive mindset looks to benefit the Islanders and, in particular, help turn the offense into one of the best in the league, as it looked in the seven-goal performance.

Barzal & Lee Finding Open Skaters

Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee are two of the best forwards on the Islanders’ roster and in recent years have been essential to the team’s success. The two skaters have yet to find the back of the net but have added to the offense as puck distributors, combining for five assists against the Ducks.

Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Barzal, who signed an eight-year extension ahead of the season, is known for his ability to find open skaters, and while it can be frustrating at times, it allows him to create plenty of scoring chances for the Islanders. Lee, however, isn’t a puck distributor. Instead, he’s an instinctive goal scorer who looks to finish scoring chances. Despite his reputation, Lee distributed three assists against the Ducks, including setting up Mayfield for the first goal of the game, allowing him to lead the team in points in the game.

Other Takeaways From the Islanders’ Win

  • Starting goaltender Ilya Sorokin saved 22 of the 23 shots he faced. While he didn’t earn a shutout, his strong performance in the net secured the victory.
  • The Islanders killed all four of their penalties in the game. Two games into the season, the penalty kill has yet to allow a goal, killing all nine penalties they’ve faced.
  • Alexander Romanov once again led the Islanders’ defensemen in blocked shots with five on the night, giving him 14 on the season. Adding to the strong night for the defense, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock blocked three shots each as well in the game.

What’s Next for the Islanders

The Islanders will receive a few days off before their next game which will be on Oct. 18 against the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks enter the game with an 0-3 record and, like the Ducks, are entering the season with a rebuilding roster. The Islanders will hope to take advantage in the upcoming game and put together another strong performance at UBS Arena.

Following the game against the Sharks, the Islanders will face the New Jersey Devils. The Metropolitan Division opponent has struggled to start the season, losing their first two games, but they are hoping to prove that the young and talented roster can compete in the Eastern Conference this season. As a result, the Devils will be an important test for the Islanders and a team they won’t take lightly.

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