The New York Islanders started their five-game homestand hopeful of returning to the win column. Instead, they scored only one goal and lost to the Dallas Stars 2-1 in a shootout. The game was a goaltending duel where the offense was at a minimum with both teams failing to find the back of the net after the first period but ultimately, the Stars came out on top in the shootout.
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The bright spot for the Islanders is that they earned a point with the shootout loss. However, the game showed a lot of weaknesses in the roster as the team struggled to come away with a victory. The Islanders lost their third game in a row and with the losses starting to pile up, they are watching their strong season slowly slip away.
Sorokin’s Strong Night
Ilya Sorokin kept the Islanders in this game and helped them earn a much-needed point. The game mirrored the 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 19 where the offense struggled and the team lost in a shootout. Against the Stars, he singlehandedly allowed them to earn the point by forcing the game into overtime.
He saved 25 of the 26 shots he faced and blanked the Stars’ offense in the second and third periods. It was another game that showed why Sorokin is one of the best goaltenders in the game and one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy this season. Likewise, the performance showed how he can carry the Islanders to a successful season. Unfortunately, the recent loss also was a reminder that he can only do so much. He gives the Islanders a chance to win every night but if the offense fails to step up, the team will continue to come up short and lose games that they otherwise could easily win.
Anders Lee Scores His 15th Goal This Year
The one goal the Islanders scored was in the first period and came on the power play, as one of the few bright spots for the offense. With effective puck movement and quick passes in the offensive zone, Brock Nelson found Anders Lee near the crease to score the goal and tie the game up at one. Lee was surrounded by multiple Stars but muscled his way to the puck and shot it into the back of the net.
With the goal, Lee has 15 on the season and is tied with Nelson for the team lead. In addition, the goal gave him his 30th point of the season which is third most on the Islanders’ roster. The offense struggled against the Stars but the captain with his power play goal provided a bright spot in the game and hope for the rest of the season that he can continue to be a reliable goal scorer.
Islanders Hit a Wall in Oettinger
The Islanders looked poised throughout the game to break the 1-1 tie and come away with a victory. However, Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made the offense look hapless with multiple remarkable saves. Oettinger, like Sorokin, is putting together a Vezina Trophy-caliber season. He has a .922 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.34 goals-against average (GAA) on 858 shots and has 14.5 goals saved above average (GSAA), making him one of the league’s elite goaltenders.
Oettinger made 27 saves and the only goal he allowed was on the power play. Furthermore, he blanked the Islanders in the shootout, with three saves to seal the 2-1 victory. The Stars are having a great season and look like one of the best teams in the Western Conference. One of the reasons for the team’s success is the remarkable play of their goaltender, as he gives the team a chance to win every time he starts.
What’s Next for the Islanders
The Islanders continue their homestand with a matchup against the Minnesota Wild, another Central Division team having a great season. The Wild, like the Islanders, are coming off a shootout loss and are looking to bounce back and return to the win column.
The Islanders losing this game was tough for their outlook on the season. Yes, they earned a point and improved to 22-17-3 on the season. However, they lost ground in the division with the defeat, dropping to sixth place in the Metropolitan Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New Jersey Devils all won their games on Jan. 10 allowing them to widen the gap in the division with the Islanders. Unless they turn things around and finish the homestand strong, they will be in danger of missing the playoffs for the second season in a row.