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Islanders: Three Takeaways from SO Loss in Second Pittsburgh Meeting

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against Mathew Barzal #13 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: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against Mathew Barzal #13 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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New York Islanders
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Islanders came within 18 seconds of making it three straight regulation wins but ultimately fell in the shootout.

All that separated the New York Islanders from three-straight regulation victories was 18 seconds and an Evgeni Malkin slap shot. In the end, the Isles and Penguins would head to the shootout, where the Blue and Orange fell to a Sidney Crosby shootout tally.

Here are three takeaways from an extremely disappointing, yet maybe not totally undeserved result.

1. Second periods continue to burn the New York Islanders

Between the second and third period of Thursday night’s action, Arthur Staple of The Athletic tweeted that the New York Islanders are now a minus-eight in second periods. The Islanders have scored 5 goals, and been scored on 13 times across all second periods throughout this season.

If you’ve watched the team regularly to any extent this season, you don’t need to hear or see that stat to know they’ve been poor in second periods. Last night, that dip in play during the middle frame cost them an extra point.

Just using the eye test during that second period, you could see a significant dip in the Islanders level of play. They were constantly stuck in their own zone. They couldn’t generate any sustained zone time or scoring chances in the offensive zone.

If you’re unfamiliar with expected goals for, or xGF, it is a stat largely used to quantify the quality of a team’s shot location, and thus the likelihood that those shots are converted to goals.  Expected goals against, or xGA, is the same way, but it measures the quality of the opposition’s shot location. Therefore, xGF% is the percentage of expected goals created that a particular team has.

In the case of Thursday night’s game, the Islanders xGF% for the first and third period was 66.26% and 73.11% respectively. During the second period, their xGF% was 32.25%, according to Natural Stat Trick.

If that still doesn’t help you visualize why the period was so poor, consider that the Islanders took home 63.16% of the game’s total high-danger scoring chances. However, they only had 33.33% of the second period’s high-danger chances-for or HDCF.

The Islanders were pretty much outdone in every measurable way during that second period, and they were probably fortunate to escape it tied at 2-2.

It would be a different story if this was just some anomalous 20-minute stretch. But it isn’t, at least, not this season it’s not.

Like Staple’s tweet said, the Islanders have been outscored 13-5 across second periods during the 2020-21 regular season. They’ve also outscored the competition 10-5 in third periods after Thursday’s action. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough on Thursday.

The coaching staff has to get this problem worked out going forward. The Islanders cannot afford to be outplayed for entire periods. Not when every game they play is ending with such tight scores. 4-3 last night, 2-0 on Monday, 4-3 on Saturday. If you continue dropping entire periods while playing consistently in one-goal games, that’s going to burn you. It did last night.

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