The New York Islanders entered the Christmas break with a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, snapping their three-game losing streak.
The game was won with a strong first period, in which the Islanders scored more goals than they did in the last three games. The goals were spread throughout the line up with Cal Clutterbuck, Travis Hamonic and Brock Nelson scoring in the first and Josh Bailey and Matt Martin icing the game in the third. John Tavares also notched two assists in his first multi-point performance in 16 games.
So basically, Santa is real.
Well, more like parents are real. Islanders fans didn’t get everything they wanted, just the more reasonable things.
The team played a strong game against a strong last-place team (we know how weird that sounds, but the Ducks are good). They carried the puck through the neutral zone with speed and cycled the puck effectively in the offensive zone. Tavares continued his strong play, and it finally showed up on the score sheet. Even the power play looked pretty effective.
They continued the experiment with Ryan Strome on the top unit and it was more successful tonight. Their passing looked stronger than it had in recent games and it allowed them to set up more comfortably in the offensive zone. They showed some of the traits that put them in the top 10 in power play goals last season.
However, it wasn’t all positives. Brian Strait was brought back into the line-up and quickly reminded everyone why he was out of it. He took a penalty in the first where he interfered (called holding) with Chris Stewart for seemingly no reason and the team was -6 in shot attempts with him on the ice at even strength.
But more important than any of this was the win. Oh, and Ryan Getzlaf offering Tavares mercy in their fight, if you want to call it that. With Tavares not pummeled and Okposo set to return next game, the Islanders should be fully healthy after the break.
Nice try Ducks.