It took a shootout, but the New York Islanders took two points against a Florida Panthers team that they just couldn’t shake.
The New York Islanders needed a win and they got it. Now all they need is a single point in their last remaining game of the season against the Washington Capitals to secure home-ice advantage.
Unfortunately, the Washington Capitals won against the Montreal Canadiens clinching the Metropolitan Division title.
The Islanders came out like a team that had something to play for, but that intensity dropped off in the second and third period. Eventually letting the Panthers back into the game.
The New York Islanders came out like a team that had skin in the game. Their forechecking was relentless causing havoc and mayhem in the Florida zone. They had their tail up.
Within seconds (48 to be precise), the Islanders were on the power play. A power play that has converted on two of their last nine opportunities. But for some reason the Islanders continued to cycle the puck and get little towards the net, eventually getting nothing on the man advantage.
After 20 minutes the score was tied but the New York Islanders were up 17-4 in shots. It’s exactly the type game the Islanders would have wanted with playoff home ice advantage and a shot at the division on the line.
Within a minute and fifty-second, Brock Nelson scored his 25th goal of the season. Josh Bailey only got a secondary assist on the goal, but his play on the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone was incredible and deserved a primary assist. (Michael Dal Colle got the primary.)
The Panthers goalie Sam Motembeault stood up to the New York Islanders through the barrage in the first period and continued making crucial saves in the second period.
There are two negative Islanders tropes of late. Players will always score their first career NHL goal against the Islanders. And backup goalies will always look like starters against the Islanders.
Motembeault was doing the latter tonight.
After a 17 shot blitz in the first period, the New York Islanders managed eight shots in the second and another seven in the third period.
It wasn’t a great idea to play-rope-a-dope hockey with any team if all you have is a one-goal lead. The Panthers could eventually make them pay. With Thomas Hickey going to the box, the second best power play in the NHL got to work.
With a heads up pass from Keith Yandel, Jonathan Huberdeau snuck the puck through Thomas Greiss’s five-hole to tie the game at one.
Overtime didn’t settle anything so it was going to take the skills competition that would settle the who gets the extra point.
Brock Nelson was the only player to score in the shootout to give the Islanders the extra point.
The Islanders had chances to bury this game in regulation and couldn’t get it to go. They gave the Panthers a chance to get something out of the game and the Panthers took it.
Twice the Islanders had a chance to sink the game on the power play and twice they failed. I thought the power play was getting better, but their effort tonight proved that I was wrong to think so.
As the Islanders get into the playoffs they’ll have to become more ruthless and kill the game off when they have the chance.
The win dropped the New York Islanders home-ice-in-the-playoffs magic number to just one. All the Islanders needed now was an overtime loss to clinch home ice advantage in round one.