3 Takeaways From Islanders’ 3-2 Shootout Loss vs Senators

The New York Islanders were desperate for a win after two rough losses to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 9 and the Montreal Canadiens and Feb. 11. They earned a point but ultimately lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators, wrapping up the season series with a 1-1-1 record.

Related: 5 Takeaways From Islanders’ 6-5 Loss vs Canucks

The recent game was one the Islanders needed to win to stay in the playoff race with the rest of the Metropolitan Division playing exceptional hockey. Instead, they lost and failed to gain ground on the teams ahead of them. Granted the Washington Capitals lost 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes, allowing the Islanders to move a point behind them but the Capitals have a game in hand, making the path to the playoffs a tough one.

The season isn’t over but the Islanders’ outlook isn’t great. The recent loss was another brutal one for a team with playoff aspirations that has looked awful in recent games. They look poised to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row and the loss to the Senators showed why this team could ultimately come up short by the end of the season.

Islanders’ Offense Struggles Again

The Islanders look a lot like the team that struggled in January, a month where they won four games and averaged only 1.93 goals per game. Against the Senators, the offense looked hapless, scoring only twice and struggling to finish scoring chances. Moreover, the forward unit outside of the top six struggled to carry the puck into the offensive zone and start up the offense. While Jean-Gabriel Pageau was a scratch before the game and will miss time with an injury, affecting the team’s depth, the latter two lines struggled immensely and allowed the Senators to control the game.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau New York Islanders
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The expectation was that the offense would rebound with the addition of Bo Horvat. Initially, it looked like that would be the case as the Islanders scored 11 goals in their first three games after the All-Star Break. However, it has regressed, often looking lethargic and slow, especially in the offensive zone. The Islanders have been able to control the puck and establish an offensive zone presence but the lack of movement leaves them with minimal effective shots on the net.

Sorokin Keeps the Game Close

Ilya Sorokin saved 32 of the 34 shots he faced and limited a potent Senators offense that averages 3.02 goals per game and entered the game with 23 goals in their last five games. The Senators could have put the game out of reach in multiple instances but Sorokin stepped up and made some remarkable saves, allowing the Islanders to ultimately force overtime and earn a much-needed point.

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Unfortunately, Sorokin’s effort couldn’t lead the Islanders to a victory as they came up short in the shootout, which the team is 0-4 in this season. It was another game where he was great in the net but could only do so much to help the Islanders win. Sorokin is having a Vezina Trophy-caliber season and in a league where goaltenders are struggling, he’s putting together a breakout campaign. However, his remarkable year is going to waste as the team around him is failing to step up and take advantage of his great performances.

Nelson Nets His 22nd Goal

In a game where the offense was awful, the one bright spot was Brock Nelson who found the back of the net with a game-tying goal in the third period. With great puck movement on the power play, he found his spot in the offensive zone by the faceoff circle and buried a shot off a one-timer. The goal tied the game and allowed the Islanders to earn a much-needed point in a game they looked poised to lose.

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

Nelson scored his 22nd goal of the season and extended his point streak to 11 games. While the Islanders have struggled recently, he’s been playing at a high level, building off his first career All-Star Game appearance. His scoring presence has both carried the offense and a team that has otherwise looked hopeless and his production could ultimately allow them to rebound on a rocky season.

Other Takeaways From the Islanders’ Loss

  • Senators’ goaltender Kevin Mandolese had an NHL debut to remember, saving 46 shots in the win. The Islanders’ offense struggled but Mandolese made the case to remain on the roster with a remarkable night in the net.
  • Ryan Pulock scored the first goal of the game and his third of the season with a shot from the slot. He has a great shot but hasn’t taken advantage of it this season and the hope is that he can find opportunities to use it more often to help open up the offense from the blue line.
  • The power play scored one of the Islanders’ two goals but it was a liability overall. The unit only scored one goal in six opportunities and in overtime, it squandered a 4-on-3 man advantage.

What’s Next for the Islanders?

The Islanders face the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins on back-to-back nights before facing the Penguins again on Feb. 20. This three-game stretch could allow them to crawl back into the playoff picture but also leave them out of the playoff race altogether, especially if they lose games to their Metropolitan Division opponents.

The last three games were prime opportunities for the Islanders to make up ground in the Eastern Conference. They faced three teams that were at the bottom of their divisions with the Canucks, Canadiens, and Senators all struggling but they went 0-1-2 in that span. General manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello made a last-ditch effort to save this team by adding Horvat to the roster but the big move might not be enough to salvage the season. The Islanders don’t look like a playoff team and it leaves the future of the franchise in question.

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