NY Islanders Flourishing With Third Period Leads During Win Streak

St Louis Blues v New York Islanders
St Louis Blues v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It's been quite the turnaround for the NY Islanders over the last two weeks, as they find themselves in playoff position following last night's 6-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. On Feb. 25th, the Isles trailed the Detroit Red Wings by ten points, and two weeks later they're now even on points with a game in hand.

If it weren't for the Islanders' blown third-period leads, they'd be comfortably in playoff position, but late collapses see them fighting for the postseason in the season's final 20 games.

Before the Isles hired Patrick Roy on Jan. 20th, the Isles had blown third-period leads 14 times. While they didn't go on to lose all those games, it left a lasting effect on the team that couldn't help but curl into a defensive ball in the final stanza.

Under Roy the team improved, but suffered their worst loss of the season to the NY Rangers in the Stadium Series game at MetLife Stadium, relinquishing a 4-1 and 5-3 lead to lose in OT. It was rock bottom in a frustrating season with a playoff birth seemingly out of reach.

Now that the team and Roy have had time to mesh, the Islanders have hit their stride playing their best hockey of the season. Winners of six straight after Roy changed all four lines, playing the Islanders' best three forwards on a line together, the Isles have outscored their opponents 30-11. And it's not just the top line with all the production as all four lines contributed a goal in last night's win.

The team's third period play has possibly been the most impressive part of the islanders' current run of play. Where they would have played a conservative game, looking to protect the lead in the final 20 minutes in the past, they've stepped on the throats of their opponents as of late, outscoring the opposition 9-2 in the final stanza over their last five games.

There's still plenty of work to do to reach the postseason but the Islanders are building confidence. They appear more comfortable playing Roy's system but will face one of their biggest tests tonight against the LA Kings. It took almost 60 games to get cooking but better late than never.