The Upshot: NY Islanders defeat New Jersey Devils 5-1 to cushion wild-card lead
Kyle Palmieri scored two goals and one assist as the NY Islanders took down the New Jersey Devils 5-1 at home in a huge game regarding playoff implications. Palmieri's first goal was a no-look backhander that went bar down that stood as the game-winner and ripped another one top shelf on his forehand to make it 3-1. Pierre Engvall started the scoring for the blue and orange, following up a Palmieri breakaway attempt by tapping his rebound into the open cage. Both Bo Horvat and Zach Parise scored empty netters, with the former getting the monkey off his back and his first goal in a month. Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves on 31 shots in the win. Eric Haula scored the only goal for the Devils shorthanded.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The game could have gone either way until Palmieri's second goal in the third period, but in the end, the Isles were harder on pucks and pinned the Devils in their own zone late in the game, tiring them out. The Islanders finished with 24 hits to the Devils' 13 and won 31 faceoffs to the Devils' 22. They also did not allow the Devils much space at all on their two power-play chances, thwarting them both.
Sorokin was also on his game today, bouncing back after the 5-4 loss against Columbus on Friday night. He did not falter all game, and the calmness he has in the net while making difficult saves just made it seem like nothing was going to get by him. Most of the Devils; chances were off of rebounds right in front of him, but he stood up to the task each time. He and the Islanders also had some luck on their side in the third after Tomas Tatar seemingly scored to tie it at two, but his skate redirection was ruled a distinct kicking motion.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The easy thing to point out for the Islanders on many nights for what went wrong is their power play. Haula's lone goal for New Jersey came on a shorthanded breakaway, and it happened due to a careless pass from Brock Nelson that turned it over trying to find Noah Dobson at the blue line. Dobson in particular has struggled as of late, not having much of an answer for the Isles' power-play woes along with not playing his best defense. The Isles lack speed on the power play too without Mat Barzal, and it shows when the unit is barely moving and not getting different looks at the net. There were times when the Devils pretty much dared the Islanders to shoot, and while Palmieri ended up making his mark later on, they forced him to take a couple of sharp-angle shots on the man advantage that were low-danger chances.
STATS OF THE GAME
According to Eric Hornick in The Skinny:
- The Isles have outscored the opposition 30-9 over the last 18 third periods.
- The Isles earned their 85th point, one more than they had all last season.
- Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin are now 1-2 all-time in hits; Clutterbuck has 3,728 while Martin now has 3,682.
- Sorokin earned his 66th win in his 129th game; he is now tied with Glenn Healy for 8th place in wins and tied with Mark Fitzpatrick for 11th in games played.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
The Isles on MSG Twitter account recognized how the Islanders need to be scoreboard-watching at this time of year given their position. A Panthers loss to the Senators along with a New York win helped widen the gap.
The Islanders will play another divisional opponent on Wednesday night when they host the Washington Capitals. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM.