5 Takeaways From Islanders’ 4-0 Win vs Kraken

After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in their return to the ice, the New York Islanders played arguably their best game of the season. Against the Seattle Kraken, who have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Islanders controlled the game from the first period and won 4-0 to sweep the back-to-back.

Related: 4 Takeaways From NY Islanders’ 2-1 Win vs Philadelphia Flyers

The Islanders have looked great since the All-Star Break. Along with winning both their games, they are on a four-game winning streak and are outscoring their opponents 10-2 in the stretch. More importantly, for the first time since the beginning of the season, they look like a playoff team with great play across the board and their star players stepping up and leading them to victories. While they aren’t in a playoff position, their performance in the recent game showed how they can match up well against most teams in the NHL, especially with a healthy and much-improved roster.

Horvat’s Big Game

The game against the Kraken was Bo Horvat’s first as an Islander at UBS Arena. Since being acquired and subsequently signed to an eight-year extension, a lot of focus has been on how he would look on his new team. Horvat is an elite goal scorer and a center that could elevate the Islanders’ offense but it was unclear how long it would take for him to get on the scoreboard.

Bo Horvat New York Islanders
Bo Horvat, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Horvat’s performance to start the game looked a lot like the one he had against the Flyers. He wasn’t adding a spark to the offense but from the center position, he was having success in the faceoff circle where he’d end the night winning 67 percent of his faceoffs. Additionally, he was also having a remarkable night defensively, notably creating turnovers in the offensive zone with his pressure on the Kraken skaters with the puck. Then came the big goal, his first with the Islanders.

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Mathew Barzal stole the puck in the offensive zone and quickly passed it to an open Horvat. The pass was collected and quickly shot to the top shelf, where Kraken goaltender Martin Jones struggled throughout the game. Horvat was known for his net-front presence and shooting ability with the Canucks and both skills were on full display with his goal which gave the Islanders a commanding 4-0 lead.

In the past two seasons, Barzal has lacked a shooter on his line and his production has declined as a result. Ironically, the best linemate he’s had in his career until now was Jordan Eberle, who was on the other team in this game. Eberle was the sharpshooter he could rely on but was selected by the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. However, Barzal now has an All-Star caliber center that can unlock his potential. The recent game showed what both players can bring to the offense and the ceiling they provide with the two skaters complementing each other’s skill sets.

Sorokin’s Shutout Performance

Ilya Sorokin started the second half of the season right where he left off before the break. His last start was a 23-save shutout performance against the Detroit Red Wings which snapped a six-game losing streak and allowed the Islanders to head into the All-Star Break on a high note. With Semyon Varlamov starting the previous game, Sorokin was sharp and prepared for the Kraken and put together another dominant performance.

Ilya Sorokin New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He saved all 32 shots he faced to secure the decisive 4-0 victory. Sorokin has five shutouts this season and 15 in his career despite only starting 110 games. Along with putting together a Vezina Trophy-caliber campaign, he is already putting together a remarkable career and the recent game was another reminder of his ability to shut down opposing offenses. The Kraken have one of the best offenses in the league, averaging 3.61 goals per game yet they looked hapless against the Islanders and their elite goaltender.

Islanders Youth Steps Up

With defenseman Alexander Romanov missing the game, Samuel Bolduc was a surprise addition. However, he made the case to stay in the lineup with a great game despite minimal preparation. Along with the 18:29 of ice time, three blocked shots, and strong puck handling, the 22-year-old defenseman scored the first goal of the game. Bolduc found the puck at the point and shot it through traffic and into the back of the net to allow the Islanders to grab an early first-period lead.

The first period was capped off with another goal from one of the Islanders’ top prospects. Simon Holmstrom found an open shot near the net and elevated the puck for his third goal of the season and the team’s second of the game. The Islanders are a veteran-heavy team, with the majority of their star players 30 years old or older. However, in the recent game, the young players on the team stepped up and fueled the victory.

Pageau’s Big Game

Jean-Gabriel Pageau had two assists in the game, bringing his total to 19 assists on the season which is third most on the Islanders behind only Barzal and Brock Nelson. Along with his strong game offensively, Pageau won 69 percent of his faceoffs and stepped up in the center of the defensive zone. The Islanders are carried by a deep forward unit and their third-line center helped lead them with great play across the board.

Pelech & Pulock Lead the Defense

Along with Sorokin’s great play in the net, the Islanders’ defense stepped up and put together another strong performance, led by their top pair of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. The duo eliminated the Kraken forwards on the rush and cut off shooting lanes while also moving the puck out of the defensive zone to help set up the offense. Pelech and Pulock have formed one of the best defensive pairings in recent seasons and recently, the duo has been back together and helping the Islanders’ defense look like one of the best in the league.

Ryan Pulock New York Islanders
Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Islanders’ defensive unit is finally at full strength, particularly on the top pair with Pelech returning to the lineup after missing multiple weeks to injury. In the last four games, the team has only allowed two goals and only one since the All-Star Break. With Pelech and Pulock leading the way, the defense looks like it will once again be a team strength and lead the Islanders back to the playoffs and more importantly, to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Other Takeaways From the Islanders’ Win

  • Zach Parise scored his 14th goal of the season, redirecting a Pageau shot to the back of the net. With the goal, Parise has the third-most on the team behind only Nelson and Anders Lee.
  • On Horvat’s goal, Barzal posted his 32nd assist of the season which is the most on the Islanders. Barzal has made his mark this season as a passer and with Horvat on his line, his production only looks to improve as the season progresses.
  • Nelson had an assist to extend his point streak to eight games. With Nelson continuing to help out the offense, the Islanders are starting to turn around their season and look like one of the league’s best teams.

What’s Next for the Islanders

The Islanders continue their two-game homestand with a matchup against the Vancouver Canucks, a team they defeated earlier on Jan. 3 in a 6-2 game. It will be a revenge game for Horvat, who plays against his former team but also Anthony Beauvillier’s first game back on Long Island since the trade. Both Horvat and Beauvillier would love to score against their former teams but the Islanders and Canucks are both looking to win the game and improve in the standings.

For the first time since the beginning of the season, the Islanders look like a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup. While they remain in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division with a 27-22-5 record, the four-game winning streak has catapulted them right behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the standings.

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