Injuries and absences are starting to pile up for the New York Islanders. Anders Lee is already out indefinitely, but just before puck drop both Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Noah Dobson were pulled from the roster for COVID-related reasons.
That’s a number of important gaps on the roster that won’t be easily filled.
Kieffer Bellow would get a chance to repeat his impressive 2021 debut from yesterday. Austin Czarnik would come in for Pageau as the third line center. And Sebastian Aho would hit the ice in the NHL for the first time since 2018 with Dobson added to the COVID protocol list.
The Devils might be second from the bottom in the MassMutual East Division, but all these absences could have been a huge challenge for the Islanders to overcome.
And overcome they did. A number of times.
New York Islanders successful next man up play
All of these new bodies in the lineup could disrupt what the Isles have been building for some time. That’s a 12 game point streak and nine-game winning streak.
The next man up (Aho, Bellows, and Czarnik) would have to prove they could fill the void left by the players they’re replacing. Not five minutes into the game and Kieffer Bellows scores his third goal in two periods thanks to Sebastian Aho.
Barry Trotz must have been smiling from ear-to-ear behind his Bane-like mask. His two late additions made an immediate impact in the lineup and on the scoresheet.
Brock Nelson would add a buzzer-beater with 1.7 seconds left in the first frame to give the Isles a 2-1 lead with 40 minutes left. That means Brock now has six goals in his last six games. Forget about Brocktober, welcome Brarch!
And while the Islanders didn’t score the rest of the way, they certainly had their opportunities. Before OT, the Isles held 50% of the scoring chances and high-danger chances (87.5%). If not for Scott Wedgewood, the Isles probably come away with this one in regulation.
The 3on3 OT was yet another disappointment. Thankfully the coaches were looking at the play on monitors calling for offside on the Subban goal. Ilya Sorokin was called into action with Nelson taking a hooking call late in OT.
The shootout has never been a friend to the Isles, but Oliver Wahlstrom would get the Isles a W tonight with a bullet of a shot.
The win puts the team in sole possession of the top spot in the NHL with 42 points. They’re also three points ahead of the Washington Capitals at the top of the MassMutual East.
Kieffer Bellows (1G, 6SOG): Another game another goal for Bellows.
Oliver Wahlstrom (1 Shootout goal): Wahlstrom won’t get a point for this goal but good shot from the rookie.
Sebastian Aho (1A): No hockey for a year is tough and he gets a point.
PK Subban (OT Goal called back): Devils could have used that win at home and Subban would have loved to have been the one to get it.
Brock Nelson (OT Penalty): What a dumb penalty to take from Brock Nelson.
Ryan Murray (2 hits): The veteran d-man was pretty absent out there for the Devils.