The NY Islanders (18-10-10) are set to take on the Vegas Golden Knights (22-15-5) at T-Mobile Arena, finishing their four-game West Coast road trip. Hopefully, East Coast fans took their pregame naps as puck drop is set for 10 pm EST.
The Islanders are coming off a dominant 5-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday at Mullet Arena. The Islanders came out of the gate strong with goals by Bo Horvat and Mike Reilly to open the scoring. The 'Yotes didn't let the Islanders dominate for too long as Nick Schmaltz got a power play goal on the board, and the Coyotes set the pace for much of the second period. The Islanders came back even stronger during the third period, learning from their many third-period mistakes. They controlled puck play, scored big goals, and didn't let the Coyotes come back or set the pace like they did in the second. Anders Lee and Julien Gauthier scored to bring the Isles up 3-1 and 4-1 respectively, just 52 seconds apart. Horvat scored his second of the game and 16th of the season to ice the game and give the Islanders a 5-1 victory. NHL All-Star Mat Barzal and Noah Dobson both had two assists on the night. Ilya Sorokin had 25 saves on the night.
The Knights are coming into tonight's matchup after a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. Vegas has lost six of their last seven and has struggled heading into the midway point despite a strong start to the season. Vegas opened the scoring three minutes into the first period with a goal by Pavel Dorofeyev. The Panthers tied the game 10 minutes later and played a dominant game to shut down the Knights. The Panthers had 36 shots on goal to the Knight's 27 in a very physical game, with both teams taking six penalties. The Panthers capitalized on three of their power plays while their penalty kill shut down the Knights, who were held scoreless on the man advantage. With the win on Thursday night, the Panthers swept the Knights in the season series to get revenge for the 2023 Stanley Cup final.
The Islanders swept the Knights in their series last season, winning the first game 5-2 and the second, almost a full year ago in January 2023, 2-1 in overtime. In their first matchup of the season, Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves and was credited with the win despite leaving the game with only a few minutes left due to an undisclosed injury (sounds familiar...). Anders Lee had the lone goal of the first period, assisted by Robin Salo. Reilly Smith scored on the power play to tie the game, but goals by young guns gave the Isles the lead and helped them dominate the Knights. Hudson Fasching scored his second goal of the season, and Simon Holmstrom scored his first career NHL goal, assisted by Zach Parise and JG Pageau. Reilly Smith scored his second of the game, another power play goal, to bring the Knights within one. But Brock Nelson iced the game with an empty net goal, and Parise scored with 22 seconds left for good measure.
In their final matchup of the season on January 28th, Lee scored his 19th of the season to open the scoring after a scoreless first period. William Carrier scored to tie the game with five minutes remaining in the second. Neither team could score during the third period, sending the game into overtime at USB Arena. Mat Barzal scored his 12th goal of the season with 32 seconds remaining in overtime to send the Knights packing. To show how much the times have changed on Long Island since the last time these two teams faced off, the OT goal was assisted by Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Julien Gauthier has been an absolute joy to watch recently. He may not shoot often, but when he does he has an absolutely wicked wrist shot that's hard for goalies to stop. The third-liner has three goals in his last five games and has been improving with every game he plays. Despite losing his roster spot to Oliver Wahlstrom for a few games, Gauthier has proven that he cannot and should not be taken out of this lineup. Horvat has continued to point-per-game pace with 38 points in 27 games played. the forward has proven that he should be an NHL All-Star with five points (2G, 3A) in his last five games. As proven by last season's series, Anders Lee loves scoring against the Knights so keep an eye out for him tonight. Lee had a goal against the Coyotes and has 16 points so far this season.
Captain Mark Stone has been solid for the Knights despite their recent struggles. He has stood out in a Vegas lineup that seems unable to score as of late. He has four points (2G, 2A) in his last five games.
It's important to note that although he's not playing tonight, Lane Lambert has said that Adam Pelech is close to returning and should be considered day-to-day. Pelech has been practicing with the team for the past few weeks, including circling in with the defensive group.
Anders Lee - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal
Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom - J.G. Pageau – Julien Gauthier
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Alexander Romanov - Noah Dobson
Samuel Bolduc – Scott Mayfield
Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho
Ivan Barbashev - Jack Eichel– Jonathan Marchessault Pavel Dorofeyev - Chandler Stephenson - Mark Stone
Brett Howden - Nicolas Roy - Keegan Kolesar
Grigori Denisenko - Michael Amadio - Paul Cotter
Alec Martinez - Alex Pietrangelo
Nicolas Hague – Zach Whitecloud
Brayden McNabb - Lukas Cormier
Knights lineup per Dailyfaceoff