3 Takeaways From Islanders’ 4-2 Loss vs Oilers

The New York Islanders were looking to build momentum off of a dominant 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks and win their first of a back-to-back in Alberta. Instead, they looked outmatched from the opening puck drop, losing to the Edmonton Oilers 4-2.

Related: 4 Takeaways From NY Islanders’ 6-2 Win vs Vancouver Canucks

The Islanders were looking to sweep the season series against the Oilers after winning the first matchup 3-0 on Nov. 23 but they were outplayed in all facets of the game. Moreover, the recent loss saw them unravel and like the 4-1 defeat against the Seattle Kraken, they displayed glaring weaknesses in their roster.

Slow Start & Special Teams Doom Islanders

Nine minutes into the game, the Islanders gave up two penalties and a goal. With the man advantage, Leon Draisaitl found an open shot near the net and gave the Oilers an early lead. The Islanders were off to a slow start and the lack of discipline in particular had them chasing the game early on.

To cap off a rough first period, the Islanders looked to even up the score on a power play but instead allowed a shorthanded goal. They mishandled the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the Oilers to take advantage with a quick breakaway opportunity. The Islanders have struggled to start games throughout the season but the 2-0 deficit to the Oilers after the first period made the game feel out of reach.

Islanders’ Defense Unravels

The Oilers average 3.54 goals per game and have a fast-paced offense that can overwhelm any defense in the league. Zach Hyman’s goal came from a Draisaitl outlet pass that set up a breakaway chance but it also was possible largely because defenseman Alexander Romanov was caught off guard and allowed the Oilers forward to skate right past him. The Islanders surrendered two goals on the rush and allowed the speed of the opposition to affect the game, resulting in the 4-2 loss.

Alexander Romanov New York Islanders
Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Islanders’ defense has stepped up all season and has been one of the team’s strengths. However, against the Oilers, the unit unraveled and was the primary reason they lost. Additionally, the recent game displayed the absence of Adam Pelech, one of the best defensemen on the roster who is on injured reserve. He is not only a great defenseman but also a great skater that can limit opponents on the rush. The defense has led them to a strong start but the recent loss was a wake-up call.

Barzal Steps Up

One of the bright spots in the loss was Mathew Barzal. His goal was the sixth in five games and put the Islanders on the board for the first time in the game. Moreover, it came from a well-placed top-shelf shot that zipped past Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell to find the back of the net. Barzal has started to shoot the puck more often and it’s made him one of the best offensive players in the league.

Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Barzal now has 11 goals on the season which is tied with Zach Parise for the third-most on the Islanders. The goal also gives him 41 points in 40 games played, making him a point-per-game player. Brock Nelson was selected as the All-Star on the Islanders but Barzal is making his mark as the team’s best forward, especially in recent games. He’s already established himself as the top playmaker on the team with 30 assists but is starting to become an elite goalscorer as well.

Other Takeaways From Islanders Loss

  • Cal Clutterbuck was activated for last night’s game after missing multiple weeks to injury. In his first game back, he found the back of the net, a promising sign that he can continue to add to the bottom six of the forward unit.
  • The Islanders were outshot 38-22. Along with the defense unraveling, the offense struggled to pressure the Oilers and make the game competitive.
  • Connor McDavid had two assists while Draisaitl scored a goal and added an assist to the Oilers’ offense. The Islanders faced two of the best players in the NHL and were overwhelmed.

What’s Next for the Islanders

The Islanders will wrap up their four-game road trip with a game tonight against the Calgary Flames. The Flames have an 18-14-7 record and are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, making them a team the Islanders will look to defeat to end the road trip on a high note.

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With the loss, the Islanders move to 22-16-2 on the season and have fallen into fifth place in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve put together a strong season but they need to improve to keep up with the rest of the division and maintain a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.