These two teams have played six times over the month of February. To say the New York Islanders are sick of the Pittsburgh Penguins is certainly an understatement. Even with a 2-2-2 record, the Isles will be happy not to see the Pens until the end of March.
A win vaults them to third in the Mass Mutual Eastern Conference, two points back of division leaders Washington who are even in a number of games played on the season.
Here’s what happened.
New York Islanders take two points from Pittsburgh Penguins, finally
More support for Sorokin
Ilya Sorokin was making his first start since a shutout on February 16 in Buffalo. In his first few outings, the team just didn’t play in front of him. Not only did they rarely score but they just let their goalie out to dry.
Through 40 the Isles dominated the shots 25-10. Eight of the Penguins shots came in the second period. Sometimes offense is the best defense. There’s no better way to support your goalie by not giving him too heavy of a shift.
When Sorokin was called into action he stood tall stopping all 20 shots he faced for the back-to-back shutout in his only two wins of the season. Something that has only been done seven times before he did it.
Special Special Teams
For a few years now the Islanders haven’t been able to rely on their special teams to get them out of a jam (when speaking of the PK) or to steal a game (when speaking of the PP).
That’s hasn’t been the case so far this season.
On five opportunities, the Islanders converted twice. And Oliver Wahlstrom was at the heart of both goals. First, it was this absolute clapper by the rookie.
How long have the New York Islanders been waiting for a player like Oliver Wahlstrom? Decades? We’ve talked a lot about the importance of Ilya Sorokin for the Isles, but how about the importance of that shot from Wahlstrom?
Basically, a period later, the power play was back at it again. This time Wahlstrom played the part of playmaker instead of the sniper as he feeds Bailey cross-ice who then finds Pageau in the slot for the goal.
With two goals on the man-advantage, the Isles finished the game with a 40% efficiency and a 25% efficiency on the season. That should push up the PP standings to eleventh in the league. A far cry from the 28th and 24th overall in 18-19 and 19-20, respectively.
By killing the two penalties they took, the penalty kill finished with a 100% on the day and bumped them up to 81.4% and locking them to the tenth best in the league.
Barry Trotz will be happy with this performance from his two rookies. With the win, the Isles are on a four-game point streak and get a day off before facing the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 2.
Oliver Wahlstrom (1G, 1A): He was who we thought he was.
Ilya Sorokin (20 saves, 1.000%): *ditto*
Josh Bailey (2A): Bailey now has three points in his last two games and 12 on the season.
Sidney Crosby (3SOG): It’s rare that he doesn’t get a point against the Isles.
Evgeny Malkin (2PIM, 1SOG): Geno was essentially MIA for the Pens tonight.
Kris Letang (1SOG): No Varly, no goal for Letang.