The New York Islanders will head into the new year on a high note and with a hot streak. In their final game of 2022, they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1, beating them for the third time this season. The Islanders struggled offensively, but another great game by their defense and goaltending helped secure another win to allow them to close out the three-game homestand strong.
Related: 4 Takeaways From Islanders’ 5-1 Win vs Penguins
With the win, the Islanders improved to 21-14-2 and extended their winning streak to three games with two wins against divisional opponents in the process. While the recent game might have been an uneventful one with minimal action, it showed how the Islanders can continue to win games and remain among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Barzal Continues Hot Streak
After scoring two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-1 win, Mathew Barzal picked up right where he left off. The Islanders needed a spark in a game where they were struggling to find the back of the net and he provided it in the second period to help secure the victory.
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The Islanders entered the game with a power play that failed to score in it’s previous 27 opportunities. However, Barzal found an open shot in the faceoff circle and on a quick pass from Brock Nelson, scored the Islanders’ second goal of the game. Barzal has an elite shot but has rarely made his mark with it, instead, he often looks to pass the puck in the offensive zone and create scoring chances for the other skaters on the ice. Recently, he has not only started shooting the puck more but is showing that he is a complete player who can beat opponents in a multitude of ways.
Barzal scored his eighth goal of the season which is tied for fifth most on the team along with Anthony Beauvillier. After struggling to score earlier in the season, he has picked up the pace and become one of the top-scoring threats in the forward unit. Additionally, with 28 assists he has made his mark as one of the best playmakers for the Islanders and remains an integral part of the team’s success.
Sorokin’s Strong Performance
In a game with only three goals, goaltender Ilya Sorokin’s great play was on full display. While the defense stepped up, and only allowed 21 shots in the game, making it the second consecutive game where they allowed only 25 shots or fewer, he stepped up and sealed the victory. He started his fifth game in a row with Semyon Varlamov out with a lower-body injury and was once again sharp in the net and prevented the Blue Jackets from coming back.
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Sorokin allowed a goal in the final 20 seconds of the game, squandering the shutout performance. However, his game was otherwise flawless and allowed the Islanders to come away with a convincing win. He has carried the team all season and while his recent starts haven’t been outstanding, he’s still making a strong case to win the Vezina Trophy.
Fasching Makes Case to Stay in Lineup
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the first goal off of a turnover at the blue line that resulted in an odd-man rush opportunity. Hudson Fasching played a pivotal role in the goal being scored with his play in the offensive zone, as he skated around two Blue Jackets and shot the puck from the slot, allowing Pageau to find a rebound in the crease and score the easy goal.
In recent games, Fasching has made a strong argument to remain in the lineup, even when the Islanders start seeing some forwards return from injuries. His numbers are underwhelming, with only two goals and two assists in 10 games played. However, he has stepped up in every role he’s been asked to play. He particularly affects the game with his forecheck and defense but the win against the Blue Jackets showed that he can be a difference-maker offensively as well.
Other Takeaways from the Islanders’ Win
- Nelson assisted on Barzal’s goal to give him 22 assists and 37 points on the season. With the point, he remains a point-per-game player and the team leader in points on the season, with Barzal right behind him with 36.
- Pageau’s goal was his first in 10 games and eighth on the season. Pageau’s offensive production has come in peaks and valleys as he failed to score in the first 10 games of the season but then found the back of the net five times in six games. The Islanders hope that the recent goal can start a scoring streak for the middle-six center.
- Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo saved 34 of the 36 shots he faced. He singlehandedly kept the game close and prevented the Islanders from putting the game out of reach.
What’s Next for the Islanders
The Islanders begin a four-game road trip with a New Year’s Day game against the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken are putting together a strong season with an 18-11-4 record but have only won three of their last 10 games.
The Islanders are playing well right now but need to continue performing at a high level to remain competitive in the Metropolitan Division. The division is shaping up to be the toughest in the NHL and one that will likely leave a great team out of the playoffs. As a result, they will need to keep on winning to maintain a playoff position.