HOW IT HAPPENED
The NY Islanders came into Buffalo following a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night looking for a bounce back win and improve the morale of both players and fans alike. Unfortunately, the Isles did not accomplish that, allowing two one-goal leads to slip away and ending up only securing the loser point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sabres.
Brock Nelson was able to break his 14-game scoreless drought by getting the Isles on the board first in the opening frame off of a great centering feed from Anthony Beauvillier. Alex Tuch tied the game at one with his 22nd goal by sweeping the puck past an unsuspecting Ilya Sorokin due to it deflecting off an Islander. About ten minutes later Matt Martin broke the tie again for the Islanders to go into the third period with a 2-1 lead, but it would not hold up. Victor Olofsson scored his 4th goal in his last five games to tie it at two in the third period, and the game would stay tied through regulation even after Beauvillier was stoned by Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with seven seconds left to go. Dylan Cozens scored 12 seconds into the sudden-death session after receiving an all-world pass by Rasmus Dahlin, leaving the Islanders with broken hearts once again.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
It's becoming very hard to see what's going right for the Islanders lately. One thing that was obvious to the eye was the performance of recently announced NHL all-star Sorokin in net. A handful of Sorokin's 42 saves were spectacular and the score could have been much higher than it was with how many shots the Sabres took. Hard to say any of the goals against were totally on him, but a shame that he wasn't able to register a win while being the sole reason the Islanders stayed in this game.
WHAT WENT WRONG
As previouly stated, the Islanders were just outmatched when it came to shots on goal. In the first period, Buffalo put up 19 shots on target to the Islanders' five, which makes it even more astounding that New York came out of that period up 1-0. The Sabres finished with 45 on the night while the Isles had 26.
The main problem in this contest has been the common denominator during the Islanders' losing skid: the lack of finishing ability. Poor Casey Cizikas had about three different odd-man breaks with great chances to score, but could not solve Luukkonen. The biggest chance the Islanders had to steal the game however came with Beauvillier's chance at the end of regulation, where he was in alone on the Finnish netminder and got a hard shot away, but the finish simply was not there when they needed it most.
Just like in the overtime loss against the Washington Capitals at UBS Arena, a play that put the opponent's talent on display would result in a loss for the Isles, and those said plays remain to be seen from the skilled players the Islanders' depend upon. This time, it was Dahlin and Cozens combining rather than Dmitri Orlov on a breakaway with missed Islander defensive assignments leaving Sorokin out to dry.
STATS OF THE GAME
According to Eric Hornick in The Skinny:
- The Islanders are 3-for-27 in the last 11 games on the power play and 3-for-52 in the last 19 games; They have killed 17 of their last 18 penalty kills.
- The Isles scored first for the fifth straight game, but they are 1-2-2 in those games.
- The Isles have scored ten goals in the last six games, all but two of those have been scored in the first period.
- Ilya Sorokin is now 7-2-3 in 12 career games where he has faced over 40 shots.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
Quite literally moments before Cozens scored to hand the Islanders an overtime loss, the team announced via Twitter that Sorokin was voted in by fans to attend his first career NHL All-Star Game in Florida. A great moment for the Islanders' starter and certainly not the last time we expect to see the young Russian netminder nominated.
The Islanders will travel back home to face the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes at UBS Arena on Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM.