The New York Islanders needed last night's game for a number of reasons.
They needed it to quell the noise around Lane Lambert's job. They needed it to show that they could hold onto a third-period lead and they needed to build momentum following their four-game road trip.
To make the 5-4 SO win last Saturday in Calgary stick and mean anything, they needed to follow it up with a strong effort and come away with two points. Otherwise, it would be just more of the same as opposed to thinking that the worst is over and the team can start to get on a roll.
The Isles once again found themselves in the all too familiar position of having a two-goal lead in the third period. When Joel Farabee scored with 4:04 left to play it provided an opportunity for the team to build some confidence and prove to themselves they could close out a game.
Despite being outshot 14-4 in the third; they did exactly that.
“They had they had a push into third, but we defended hard and defended well for the most part,” Lambert said after the game. “They threw a lot of pucks in the net, and when our goaltender had to make some saves, he certainly did."
The team had more of a sustained forecheck and offensive zone time last night as Lambert praised both the fourth-line feating Hudson Fasching and third line centered by JG Pageau for their efforts. They other key difference is that the Islanders only took two penalties and were short-handed just once, keeping the game at even-strength where they've excelled.
"I thought our discipline was good. It's important to stay out of the box no matter who you are playing, added Lambert. "Unnecessary penalties don't help, and we've seen that rear its ugly head a little bit, and I thought we did a good job of discipline tonight."
It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was a game where the Islanders felt in control throughout, even as Philadelphia made thier push in the final 20 minutes. It was more indicative to the identity of the team and what brought them success in the final third of the season last year. Now they have to keep building upon it to continue to push up the Metro standings.