On the heels of a disastrous 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the New York Islanders needed a bounce-back performance and a win to get themselves back on track. They put together their best performance of the five-game road trip thus far with a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. With the win, the Islanders snapped a three-game losing streak and capped off the back-to-back on a high note.
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The Islanders are now 18-13-1 on the season and the win was much needed considering how the rest of the Metropolitan Division is shaping up. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on a seven-game winning streak, the Carolina Hurricanes have won four consecutive games, and the New York Rangers have won six games in a row, allowing all three teams to pass the Islanders in the standings. Similarly, the Washington Capitals have won seven of their last 10 games and are right behind them in the division.
The recent win not only put the Islanders back on track but kept them in the mix in a suddenly competitive division. Likewise, the win against the Golden Knights was a reminder of how the Islanders have been successful this season, with great defense and better goaltending leading the way.
Islanders Goaltending Fuels Win
Semyon Varlamov started the game and looked sharp in the net. He saved 35 of the 37 shots faced, including all 33 even-strength shots to keep the Golden Knights from coming back in the game. However, late in the third period, Varlamov needed to leave the game and on short notice, Ilya Sorokin entered the game to close out the final 6:22 of the game. Sorokin only faced one shot but helped keep the strong goaltending performance together and allowed the Islanders to win the game 5-2.
The recent game was another reminder of the great goaltending the Islanders possess. They needed a strong performance in the net and Varlamov led the way. While he couldn’t finish the game, he helped carry the team to the win and Sorokin helped close it out. The Golden Knights scored two power-play goals but otherwise looked hapless against the Islanders’ potent goaltending, which led the team to another big win.
Fasching & Holmstrom Step Up in Clutterbuck & Palmieri’s Absence
Both Kyle Palmieri and Cal Clutterbuck were unavailable for the Islanders. The two skaters played against the Coyotes but injuries have sidelined them once again, forcing head coach Lane Lambert to call up Hudson Fasching and Simon Holmstrom to the roster.
The moves seemed to pay off against the Golden Knights as both skaters found the back of the net to fuel the Islanders’ win. In the second period with the game tied at one goal apiece, Fasching carried the puck into the offensive zone and didn’t look like he had an effective shot on the net. However, a strong cut to the net allowed him to slip the puck past Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. The team’s third goal was scored later in the second period by Holmstrom who hesitated and moved to the slot to create a shooting lane and fire the puck to the back of the net. The quick move resulted in Holmstrom’s first goal in the NHL and was a promising sign that he can continue to create scoring opportunities for himself as a talented forward.
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Both Fasching and Holmstrom stepped up in the forward unit and helped provide a much-needed spark to the offense. Moreover, the two skaters made a case to remain in the lineup as regulars after the win against the Golden Knights. While Fasching is a checking forward and Holmstrom is a skilled shooter on the wing, both have proved they can contribute to the team and play a pivotal role in the roster’s success.
Anders Lee Returns to the Scoresheet
Anders Lee struggled to find the back of the net and create scoring chances along with the rest of the Islanders offense. His struggles went hand in hand with the team as he scored only one goal in 17 games, a stretch where they went 8-8-1. In the first period, Lee was the one who started the scoring, firing a shot from the high slot to the top shelf to give the Islanders an early 1-0 lead.
Lee is a pivotal player in the Islanders’ success with the team relying heavily on him as one of the primary goal scorers. With his 10th goal of the season, he helped kickstart the bounce-back performance and snapped a three-game scoreless drought as his last goal came on Dec 9 in a 6-4 win against the New Jersey Devils. The Islanders are looking to build on the recent win and will look for Lee to continue to find scoring chances near the net and fuel the offense to help the team turn the season around.
Other Takeaways From the Islanders Game
- Both Brock Nelson and Zach Parise scored in the final minutes with the net empty. While Parise’s goal is his 10th of the season, Nelson scored his team-leading 15th goal and added his 18th assist in the game as well.
- Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith was a one-man wrecking crew as he scored both of his team’s goals and came inches away from scoring a game-tying goal in the third period, which would have given him a hat trick.
- Scott Mayfield led the defensemen with three shots on goal and with 23:03 ice time, playing a pivotal role in the neutral zone and defensive zone to secure the win. In the offensive end of the ice, the defensemen who impacted the game were Robin Salo and Sebastian Aho, with both adding an assist in the five-goal performance.
What’s Next for the Islanders
The Islanders wrap up the five-game road trip with a matchup against the Colorado Avalanche followed by their third and final game against the Rangers. Both teams have been playing well recently and possess two of the league’s best rosters, but the Islanders beat the Avalanche earlier in the season with a comeback win and defeated the Rangers twice. The Islanders will look to sweep the season series against the two opponents but more importantly, start a hot streak to rebound in the Metropolitan Division.
The Islanders earned a much-needed win that allowed them to keep up with the rest of the competitive division. However, the rest of the road trip will be pivotal for them as they will look to remain near the top of the division and the Eastern Conference.