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Islanders: Three takeaways from 4-1 win vs. Devils

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JANUARY 18: Semyon Varlamov #40 and Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders celebrate their 1-0 shut-out against the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum on January 18, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders shut-out the Bruins 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JANUARY 18: Semyon Varlamov #40 and Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders celebrate their 1-0 shut-out against the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum on January 18, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders shut-out the Bruins 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders
New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7). Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

2. The Islanders Power Play Went 2/3

I recently did a piece talking about the Islanders power play, mainly focusing on how bad it’s looked, and pitched a couple ideas on how they could maybe fix it by changing how they use the bumper. Specifically, I talked about the fact that they needed to get the bumper more involved in the play.

On Thursday, they got the puck to the bumper more often, and it paid dividends with a two for three night on the man advantage.

How did they do it? By shooting pucks from the blue line, actually. Brock Nelson, who didn’t register a shot on goal and had such a hard time from the bumper in the 1-0 Islanders win on Monday, registered two shots on the man advantage tonight, putting up a goal to boot.

Both Nelson shots were redirects from the hash marks that forced Wedgewood to make difficult saves through traffic.

It’s a big moment for the Islanders power play, which had gone 0 for 12 since their last power play goal in the second period of a 4-0 win at the Rangers.

A big moment because the Islanders surrendered a goal in the second period, making it a 2-1 game. Because the Isles’ first man advantage, until its dying seconds at least, looked typically declawed, harmless. Like it was incapable of doing damage to the Devils penalty killers, who aggressively pressed into the Islanders zone for much of the two minutes.

Momentum is pretty much an impossible thing to quantify, so I don’t like to reference it too much. But had the Islanders not scored on their two third period power plays, had they floundered around just trying to exit their own zone like they had the first time, would that have ceded momentum to New Jersey? Sure, probably.

Would it have led to a game-tying goal in the third period? Impossible to say to any degree of certainty. But anyone who watches hockey has seen an absolute stinker of a power play take the wind out of its team’s sails at least a couple of times.

It happened on Monday against the Bruins. That first-period power play was so bad, and the Bruins came on so strong thereafter that it felt like the ice was tilted toward the Islanders zone for the rest of that period.

But, none of that matters for the time being. The Islanders power play did score on Thursday, multiple times actually. Jordan Eberle potted his second goal of the game, and Brock Nelson, after suffering a ghastly cut in the second frame, came back to score in the third.

There’s reason to be unconvinced yet hopeful about this Islanders unit coached by Jim Hiller. Again, that first opportunity was like a replay of the Bruins game, but the second and third were much more potent. Perhaps this is the start of a hot streak for Hiller’s unit. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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