2. Wahlstrom’s First-Ever NHL Playoff Goal
Oliver Wahlstrom has had a bit of an up and down first NHL playoff series. He was a key cog in the Islanders third line’s strong game one performance but had seen difficulties in replicating that performance in games two and three. He was an impact performer again in game four, and that saw him score his first-ever NHL playoff goal.
Wahlstrom’s game three tally wasn’t necessarily the product of his beautiful shot. Instead, it was a goal owed mostly to Penguins center Teddy Blueger, who knocked the loose puck off of Wahlstrom’s shot into the Pittsburgh net.
That, however, isn’t an indictment of Wahlstrom’s performance. The young winger assisted earlier on Ryan Pulock’s goal, another redirection off a Penguin, Cody Ceci, whose skate the Pulock blast hit before finding the back of the Penguins net.
Wahlly finished tied for third among Islanders skaters with four individual shot attempts (iCF) and individual scoring chances for (iSCF). He also drew a penalty late in the second period which sent Malkin to the penalty box for the third time on the day.
Wahlstrom’s performance isn’t likely to turn any heads just yet, but his two points and heady play, as well as his continued commitment to not shying away from the physical side of his game should shine through for Islanders fans looking for an impact player in the Islanders bottom-six forward group.
Of course, the goal could also serve as a spark to ignite Wahlstrom’s confidence. Don’t forget Wahlly’s first NHL regular-season goal came as a result of an odd bounce that helped the puck find its way on net. It’s hard to say Wahlstrom’s mid-season goal-scoring exploits were aided by that first lucky bounce, as they came almost a month apart, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt either.
Wahlstrom’s shot totals began to spike in February and mid-March as the player gained confidence, and that is the sort of thing the Islanders could use going forward. Hopefully, Wahlstrom’s first playoff goal can give way to those kinds of aggressive, goal-hunting performances by the youngster.