The NY Islanders take on the Calgary Flames in a Pacific-time matinee. The Islanders hope to avoid losing their eighth straight game, including all three on their western Canada road trip. Tonight, they close out what was been quite a painful series of games against the Flames.
The Isles have scored the opening goal in their last three games but are struggling to maintain pressure, especially on the penalty kill. The Islanders had the best home PK in the league last season and are now sitting at 31st overall with a 67.9% success rate. The Flames, on the other hand, are 5th in the league at 86.8%. Special teams will be especially important tonight, with the Islanders and Flames struggling on the powerplay; each team has 22.2% (11th) and 13.5% (26th) success, respectively. During this 7-game skid, the Islanders have allowed 12 power-play goals on 24 chances.
Per Stefen Rosner, the Islanders have not allowed a goal at 5-on-5 in 153:19 gameplay. While this sounds great, special teams are falling apart and sending the Islanders spiraling. They continue to take stupid penalties in the third period, and their penalty-killing units are being left out to dry. The continuous penalties also mean benching players like Mat Barzal who need to be out on the ice consistently but are forced to sit because of his lack of penalty killing.
On the other hand, the Islanders' power play finally seems to be clicking, much to the fan's delight. However, the Islanders need to focus on making sure that they are sustaining pressure at 5-on-5 and penalty-killing to stay competitive in tonight's matchup. The Islanders currently sit at 7th in the Metropolitan Division. This division used to be seen as the most competitive in the league but has been struggling early on this season.
The Islanders are coming off of a shootout loss to the Seattle Kraken. The team is 0-5 when extra time is required this season. Anders Lee, who has struggled as of late, opened the scoring on the power play with his second goal of the season. The Kraken scored twice in the first period to regain the leader over the Islanders. Casey Cizikas was able to tie the game in the second period with his 100th NHL goal, and the Isles were able to play a fairly evenly matched period. Thanks to a Noah Dobson power play goal, the Isles took a 3-2 lead over the Kraken until Kailer Yamamoto, Seattle's hero of the game, tied it at three at 4:50 into the third period. Yamamoto ended the game in Seattle's favor in the ninth round of the shootout, winning the game 4-3.
The Flames are coming off a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks where Elias Lindholm scored a goal and had two assists. Flames forward Jonathan Huberdeau (1G,1A) and Blake Coleman (2A) also had multi-point nights in the Flames' second straight win. The Flames struggled similarly to the Islanders to start the season but have started gelling together and finding a team-wide system as of late. Calgary was able to score four straight against the Canucks and never gave them a chance to make a comeback. Jacob Markstrom has also been improving since the beginning of the season, making 20 saves on Thursday.
The Islanders have not faced the Calgary Flames since January 6, 2023, when the Islanders lost 4-1. Zach Parise, a former Islander whose NHL status is up in the air, scored the Isles's lone goal. Both sides played a very evenly matched game, but Markstrom stood strong in net for the Flames, and a few timely saves fueled the team and helped them come out with a win. Isles Semyon Varlamov played his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on December 17th but made only 17 stops on 21 tries. The Isles played without Barzal, who skated during warmups but was ruled out of the game with a lower-body injury.
Isles fans would prefer if former-future Islander Nazem Kadri would refrain from scoring against the Isles tonight. Kadri scored 4th goal for the Flames during their last meeting.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
As of late, watching any Islanders player on the ice has been saddening, with many players known for their flashy and big play styles looking invisible and almost skittish on the ice. However, Barzal has shined in his last five games. He garnered two assists against the Kraken and has six points in his last five games. The top line of Barzal, Bo Horvat, and Simon Holmstrom has been the Isles's best line during the losing streak, solidifying Holmstrom's place in the lineup. Brock Nelson has two goals in his last five games and garnered an assist on Lee's power-play goal.
Calgary forward Blake Coleman has five points in his last five games (2G, 3A) and is coming from a multi-point game. He's been incredibly offensively for the Flames this season and is a +6 in his last five games. Jacob Markstrom has been outstanding in net and has a 4-6-1 record this season. He has a 2.66 goals-against average, but his save percentage of .906 could be improved. Markstrom always plays a great game against the Islanders and will put up a fight against a struggling Islanders offense.
Mat Barzal - Bo Horvat - Simon Holmstrom
Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee - JG Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Hudson - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech - Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov - Ryan Pulock
Sebastian Aho - Scott Mayfield
Dillon Dube - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane
Connor Zary - Nazem Kadri - Martin Pospisil
Jonathan Huberdeau - Mikael Backlund - Blake Coleman
A.J. Greer - Adam Ruzicka - Yegor Sharangovich
MacKenzie Weegar - Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin - Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov - Nizk DeSimon