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Islanders vs. Penguins: Power play winner ends losing streak (Highlights)

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Semyon Varlamov #40 playing in his 500th NHL game records a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and is joined by Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on February 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Semyon Varlamov #40 playing in his 500th NHL game records a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and is joined by Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on February 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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As it is for most games, the talking point heading into this one was the lineup. The New York Islanders called up Oliver Wahlstrom to the main roster to play next to Jean-Gabriel Pageau on line three, but the news that Leo Komarov would play on the left of line three didn’t sit well with fans and dominated conversation heading into this one.

Michael Dal Colle would sit in Beauvillier’s spot on the revamped second line. After a poor outing last week, Barry put Jordan Eberle next to Brock Nelson and Bailey up with Barzal and Lee. Both of those trios would stay together against a banged up and poor performing Penguins side.

The Penguins come into this one with a 5-4-1 record while allowing the fourth-highest goals per game in the league at 3.70. This would be a good one for the Islanders to get back into form and feeling good about themselves.

To do so, the Islanders needed three things to change in order to get back to their best. (1) The second line needed to produce, (2) the fourth line needed to set the tone for the team, and (3) they needed to cut down on catastrophic d-zone breakdowns.

New York Islanders correct two out of three issues

Coming into the game, Brock Nelson had been a black hole of production with a single point over his last five. Which is certainly why Barry Trotz pushed down Eberle to his line.

Typically the roles are reversed in the opening portion of the season. Usually, it’s Nelson who’s scoring in bunches and Eberle who’s struggling to put up points. Through 5:23 of the first frame, Eberle would pick up goals number four and five on the year.

First, was this incredible backhand goal to open the scoring. Credit to Dal Colle for this pretty pass for Eberle to skate into and for the former fifth overall to nab his first point of the year.

The production from the second line didn’t stop. Just 5:23 later, Jordan Eberle put another one by Tristan Jarry (whose absolutely struggling in net for the Penguins right now) while Nelson and Michael Dal Colle would pick up helper number two on the year.

I wrote before the season that perhaps this can be a turnaround year for Dal Colle. With two points in 5:23, the former top-five pick is already 20% towards matching his career-high production from 2019-20 of ten points.

Catastrophic Mistakes

Barry Trotz believes his team isn’t making many mistakes defensively, it’s just that the ones they are making are “catastrophic ones”. No better example than when Evgeni Malkin tied the game at two after a poor zone exit by Mayfield/Nelson 15 seconds before the buzzer rang.

That can’t happen for a team that prides itself on defense. Not to mention that it’s from one of the Isles veteran d-men in Scott Mayfield who’s been here from the start since Trotz took over.

Fourth Line

Without the fourth line of Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck rolling the Islanders are rudderless. The Islanders identity line is a big factor in how they play. When they aren’t forechecking or hitting the opposition into the boards they just aren’t effective.

Today, the “best fourth line in hockey” acted like it.

If you didn’t happen to see the game, the fourth line 51.32 xGF% at 5on5 tells you everything you need to know. They spent most of the time in the Penguins zone and even picked up a goal for their efforts.

With a power-play goal from captain Anders Lee minutes before the end of regulation, the Isles walked away with a much needed 4-3 win and snapped their five-game losing streak.

It wasn’t perfect, but the Islanders got the ‘W’, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Winners

Jordan Eberle (2G): Big night for Jordan Eberle as he continues to find the back of the net.
Anders Lee (1GWG): Lee now has three PPG on the season. He had two last year.
Semyon Varlamov (0.903SV%): That save percentage doesn’t sound good, but Varlamov propped up the Isles when they needed him.

Losers

Tristan Jarry (0.846SV%): One of the worst goalies in the league continues to be poor.
Sean Lafferty (-2, 6hits): It was perhaps the most invisible performance from someone who put up six hits.
Teddy Bluegher (2PIM): Puck over the glass cost his team the game here.

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