The NY Islanders continue to look for wins in a dark excerpt of their 2022-23 season, with today's attempt coming on the road against the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Islanders' last game came at home against a division opponent in the Carolina Hurricanes. While many Long Islanders stayed home to watch the New York Giants lose their playoff game, those who attended this game were demoralized as well, with the blue and orange falling by a score of 5-2. The Isles started off strong with two beautiful goals from Simon Holmstrom and Brock Nelson, but as has been the pattern lately they took their foot off the gas after one period. Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho scored three unanswered goals to net a natural hat trick at UBS Arena, two of which can be blamed on unfortunate plays from Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho.
The Leafs are coming off a somewhat demoralizing loss of their own, blowing a 2-0 lead to end up losing 3-2 in overtime to the rival Montreal Canadiens. They got off to a hot start, going up by two after the first period off of goals from Mark Giordano and Calle Jarnkrok. Montreal fought back early in the second with Josh Anderson beating Ilya Samsonov almost two minutes in, followed up by the first NHL goal from Rafael Harvey-Pinard. The two remained knotted up until the end of regulation before Rem Pitlick was the sudden death hero for the Habs, completing the comeback win.
The Isles and Leafs have only played once so far this season, that being a 3-2 win in overtime courtesy of Anthony Beauvillier when this team was in a much better place than it is now. The Maple Leafs last season, however, won all three matchups they played against New York, all of which included the first Leafs' goal being scored by Mitch Marner. In these last four matchups, the Isles have been able to hold Toronto's high-octane offense to four goals or less, and there's always a solid chance most Islanders' players play with a little bit of extra motivation playing against their former captain John Tavares.
Players to Watch
A player that truly needs to get his act together lately for the Isles is Mat Barzal. Not that he's been the problem for the Islanders considering it's very hard to blame him when his linemates have changed every single game, but he has gone pointless in his last seven games. The Islanders' lack of dynamic difference-makers has peeled the eyes of fans and has drawn plenty of criticism, but Barzal is one of the few guys on the team that can be considered one of those dynamic skill guys. They have only scored 15 goals in their last nine games, so something has to click eventually for not just Barzal, but everybody else.
"It's just hard to find chemistry with anybody when other game it's a new line."- Mat Barzal
Mitch Marner was selected to represent Toronto as their all-star this season, and he has most certainly deserved that honor. Marner is up to 56 points in just 47 games played on the season, on pace for the best mark in his career. It's rare that he comes out of any Maple Leafs' game without contributing to a goal, as he has six points in his last four games, and 15 in his last 11 if you want to look further. Marner also set a Leafs' franchise record this season with an impressive 23-game point streak, so the Islanders will need to make sure they keep watch of this crafty and efficient playmaker.
Anders Lee-Mathew Barzal-Casey Cizikas
Josh Bailey-Brock Nelson-Anthony Beauvillier
Zach Parise-JG Pageau-Simon Holmstrom
Matt Martin- Aatu Raty-Ross Johnston
Alexander Romanov-Scott Mayfield
Sebastian Aho-Noah Dobson
Parker Wotherspoon-Ryan Pulock
Injured: Oliver Wahlstrom, Adam Pelech, Kyle Palmieri, Cal Clutterbuck, Hudson Fasching
Michael Bunting-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Calle Jarnkrok-John Tavares-Mitch Marner
Alexander Kerfoot-David Kampf-Pierre Engvall
Zach Aston-Reese-Pontus Holmburg-Bobby McMann
Morgan Rielly-Timothy Liljegren
Mark Giordano-Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin-Conor Timmins
Lines courtesy of dailyfaceoff.com