The New York Islanders needed a bounce back performance and dominated a struggling Anaheim Ducks team to return to the win column. After back-to-back losses to the Washington Capitals on March 11 and the Los Angeles Kings on March 14, they stepped up and overwhelmed the Ducks with a decisive 6-3 victory.
The Islanders made a statement in the recent game, scoring six goals for the first time since the Jan. 3 win against the Vancouver Canucks. Granted, the performance was against the Ducks who are one of the worst teams in the league and possess a defense that allows 4.00 goals per game. However, the Islanders showed what they can do, especially on the offensive end of the ice to not only take over games but make a deep playoff run.
Palmieri’s Big Game
Kyle Palmieri made a statement against his former team. He was selected by the Ducks in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and had a strong start to his career, scoring 43 goals and 46 assists in five years with the team. The recent game was a return back to where his career started and the 32-year-old forward wanted to remind the Ducks that he can still take over a game with his shot and quick passes.
In the first period, Palmieri scored the first goal of the game for the Islanders and assisted on three goals as well in the six-goal performance. The four-point game was a career-high for Palmieri and without question, his best game of the season as he helped lead the Islanders to a 6-3 victory.
Related: 3 Takeaways From Islanders 5-2 Loss vs Kings
With the four points, Palmieri now has 11 goals and 15 assists on the season. He has been a reliable contributor to the offense all season and his playmaking presence on the wing has helped open things up. Against the Ducks, he was the best player on the ice and along with finding the back of the net with a great shot, he carved up the opposition with his passes in the offensive zone.
Nelson’s Two-Goal Night
Brock Nelson scored the Islanders’ third goal of the game which helped flip the momentum and give them the lead heading into the third period. He found an open shot on a quick pass to catch Ducks goaltender John Gibson out of position and found the back of the net to allow the Islanders to score a goal in the final minute of the second period.
To cap off the night, Nelson scored his second goal of the game in the third period to give the Islanders a three-goal lead, essentially putting the game out of reach. Similar to his first goal, he found space in the offensive zone and scored with a quick shot.
The two-goal performance allowed Nelson to reach the 30-goal mark on the season. After scoring 37 goals last season, he is once again putting together a career year and leading the Islanders’ offense. His 30 goals are a team-high and a primary reason they are currently in a wild card position in the Eastern Conference.
Sorokin Closes Out the Game Strong
Ilya Sorokin had a rough night against the Kings, allowing four goals in the 5-2 defeat, making the game one of his worst of the season. Starting this game on short rest, he struggled at first, allowing two goals in the first 18 minutes and looked poised for another disappointment in the net. However, Sorokin stepped up and closed out the game strong, helping lead the Islanders to a much-needed win over the Ducks.
Sorokin blanked the Ducks’ offense for the remainder of the game and allowed the Islanders to come back and pull away with a 6-3 victory. While he allowed a late goal, his performance in the second and third periods helped seal the win as he saved 20 of the 23 Ducks shots.
Engvall is Finding His Role in the Offense
When Pierre Engvall was acquired by the Islanders at the trade deadline, the expectation was that he would add a scoring presence to the middle of the forward unit, something the offense desperately needed. Through six games, he has provided that and then some. Against the Ducks, he connected with Palmieri twice to help score two of the Islanders’ six goals to help them pull away with a decisive victory.
The Islanders’ first goal of the game came from an Engvall cross-ice pass that allowed Palmieri to find the back of the net. In the third period, Palmieri returned the favor, finding him open on a pass from the blue line that allowed him to score his third goal in as many games. Engvall is adding depth to the offense and is particularly using his shot to open things up. His presence is not only turning the offense around but making the Islanders look like a team that can make a deep playoff run.
Other Takeaways From the Islanders’ Win
- Adam Pelech had himself a night. He had two assists and led all skaters with 25:01 ice time while playing a big role defensively to help close out the win.
- Zach Parise scored a goal and distributed an assist. With 17 goals this season, he has the third-most goals on the Islanders and has been one of the best players on the team despite being the oldest at 38 years old.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau added an assist in the game. He’s been back in the lineup for two games and has added two points in that stretch.
What’s Next for the Islanders
The Islanders wrap up their West Coast road trip with a game against the San Jose Sharks on March 18, a team they beat 5-2 on Oct. 18. Like the Ducks, the Sharks are one of the worst teams in the NHL with a 19-36-13 record and only one win in their last 10 games. As a result, the Islanders have to take advantage and overwhelm the Sharks from the opening puck drop.
The road trip has been a mixed bag so far, with the Islanders splitting the first two games. However, a win against the Sharks will put them in a great position to secure a playoff spot and also keeps them within reach of the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.