With a nervy 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Islanders extended their point streak to 13 games. Picking up 25 of 26 possible points.
The Islanders offense exploded once again as they downed John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4. Nine different players picked up a point tonight and four different players had a multi point night for the Isles.
The win puts the Islanders record at 12-0-1 over their last 13 games. That’s 25 of a possible 26 points in the bank. If 100 points is what it takes to make the playoffs, the Islanders are already a quarter of the way there with 79 percent of the season left to play.
I’ve never seen a team play rope-a-dope hockey quite like the Islanders. Through much of the opening ten minutes of the first period, the Isles let the Maple Leafs dictate the play. The Leafs were happy to oblige.
Unlike most teams who employ this strategy, the Islanders were successful in keeping the Leafs to the outside of the offensive zone. Just look at this shot heat map from NaturalStatTrick. Just one little speck in the slot for the Leafs.
Meanwhile, the Islanders piled on the shots in the slot and ended up putting two in the back of the Leafs net. First, it was the kid who won the Calder,
That’s Barzal’s fourth goal against the Maple Leafs since Tavares left. It’s almost as if, Barzal gets up for games against the Leafs.
It’s nice to see Jordan Eberle linking up with Barzal and back on the score sheet after missing some time with an injury.
Five minutes later
would make it 2-0 on the power play with a nice wrist shot from outside the faceoff circle. Andersen got a piece of the puck, but thankfully, not enough as its knuckles into the top corner.
That was Anthony Beauvillier’s first goal since October 8. That sounds bad. But it truly isn’t. Beauvillier might only have a goal over the last month, but he has four helpers and has been a factor off the puck in every game this season.
The Isles let the Leafs play and then shut them down by taking a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes. Ali would be proud.
Unfortunately, though, hockey is a 60-minute game. In the second period, the rope-a-dope didn’t work as well.
Before the Islanders could get a single shot on net Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander tied it up for the Maple Leafs. By the time Derick Brassard got the puck on net from behind the Leafs goal line for the Isles first shot on net of the period, Toronto held a 12-0 shot advantage over the Islanders.
With a few minutes left in the period Barry Trotz decided he had to get his team back into the game and put the lines in a blender. It worked almost immediately. The French Connection of Anthony Beauvillier and Derick Brassard got some offensive time and found a way through Andersen.
That was Beauvillier’s first goal since October 8. That sounds bad, but Beauvillier has four points in that span and has been great off the puck in every game. It was only a matter of time before Beauvillier was back among the goals.
Whatever happened in the second period, the Islanders knew they weren’t going to be able to use the same strategy in the third. The Islanders were going to need to play some offense to bury the game.
Thankfully, early in the third period the Islanders would get another power play opportunity. Cue Mathew Barzal.
The Islanders center would remind us – just in case you didn’t already know – he was a world class player. Watch how he cuts through two defenders and then strings along the entire Leafs defensive line, including the goalie, to then feed the puck to a wide open Derick Brassard for the Isles second power play goal of the night.
Cizikas would add an empty-netter that would actually prove to be the game winner on the night because the Leafs would put up two goals in the final few minutes. It was nervy, but the Islanders got the two points, and that’s all that matters.
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1. Anthony Beauvillier: 2 Goals
Beau just loves playing the Leafs. He now has eight points in ten games against the Leafs in his career. He’s only scored more points against the New York Rangers.
2. Derick Brassard: 1 Goal, 2 Assists
It was his first game back at center after playing on the wing for a stretch. As a center he was anonymous. He put a point on the Isles power play in the first. But as Trotz put him back at the wing he exploded for another two points.
3. Mathew Barzal: 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Again, what a spectacular assist from Mathew Barzal on the Brassard goal. Few players can pull off a move like that. And he’s ours.