Game preview: NY Islanders at Minnesota Wild
The NY Islanders are coming off a 4-0 shutout victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday afternoon. Semyon Varlamov played very well and stopped all 23 shots he faced, but the Islanders played shut-down defense and set the tone early by only allowing one shot on goal in the first period. Bo Horvat scored a shorthanded goal early in the game that stood as the game-winner for his 36th of the season. Alexander Romanov also scored for the first time since December 22nd with a rising shot that ended up in the top corner to make it 2-0 in the second. After immense pressure from Winnipeg in the New York zone, Brock Nelson clipped the Jets' wings by picking up the puck in their zone, deking past Kyle Connor, and scoring moments later to make it 3-0 right before the period ended. Adam Pelech added an empty netter with a bank shot off the boards in the defensive zone to cap off a hard-fought victory for the Island.
The Minnesota Wild are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at home. After going down 2-0 through two periods, star forward Kirill Kaprizov took matters into his own hands and scored two goals early in the third period to knot the score at two. The game remained tied until sudden death overtime when Kaprizov scored again to cap off the hat trick and will the Wild to a huge comeback victory. The wild collectively put 44 shots toward Columbus goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 41 of those including eight from Kaprizov alone, while Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 22 saves on 24 shots.
Players to Watch
This game will be a homecoming for a few Islanders, one of them being Brock Nelson. He reached a new career high in points of 60 after he scored against the Jets on Sunday. Nelson has also been the most consistent Islanders forward scoring-wise in their most recent stretch. He has registered at least one point in 16 of his last 17 games and put up 21 points during that span. With the Islanders missing key centers Mathew Barzal and J.G. Pageau due to injury right now, Nelson has stepped up and provided scoring when they need him to.
Kaprizov is an easy choice from the Wild, considering the performance he had against Columbus. After posting 47 goals and 108 points last season, he continues to be Minnesota's franchise player night in and night out. This season, Kaprizov currently has 37 goals and 34 assists for 71 points in just 60 games. That is good for a 95-point pace in an 82-game season, which is less than last season, but that should not discount the year he is having. He is a fantastic skater, has a great shot, and is dangerous in all three zones. The first line consists of Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, and Ryan Hartmann, which the Isles will have to try to shut down.
The Isles have lost their last three games against Minnesota dating back to last season. They most recently played the wild on January 12th at UBS Arena in a game that saw New York fall 3-1. Scott Mayfield scored the only goal for the blue and orange in a rather boring and discouraging loss that only saw 20 Islander shots. Ilya Sorokin kept the Isles in the game by making 33 saves on 35 shots. Frederick Gaudreau and Sam Steel both beat Sorokin while Kaprizov added an empty net goal to seal the game. In the 2021-22 season, they lost 5-2 on the road in November during their infamous early-season slump and then lost 4-3 at home at the end of January.
Anders Lee-Bo Horvat-Matt Martin
Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Arnaud Durandeau-Casey Cizikas-Hudson Fasching
Ross Johnston-Otto Koivula-Simon Holmstrom
Adam Pelech-Scott Mayfield
Alexander Romanov-Ryan Pulock
Sebastian Aho-Noah Dobson
Kirill Kaprizov-Ryan Hartman-Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Matthew Boldy
Jordan Greenway-Frederick Gaudreau-Brandon Duhaime
Mason Shaw-Connor Dewar-Ryan Reaves
Jacob Middleton-Jared Spurgeon
Alex Goligoski-Mathew Dumba
Dakota Mermis-Jon Merrill
Lines via Daily Faceoff