HOW IT HAPPENED
The NY Islanders started out playing really slow and sloppy against the Toronto Maple Leafs but ended up getting it done somehow and won the game in overtime by a score of 3-2. Noah Dobson broke the ice late in the first with a booming slapshot that deflected off of a defender's leg and into the net. Toronto would score both of their goals in the second period, the first of which being scored by none other than former Isles captain John Tavares, who scored just eight seconds into a power play off of a tik-tak-toe set play to the slot. Auston Matthews made a beautiful redirection off of a shot from Timothy Liljegren to take the lead 2-1 going into the third period.
It just felt like the Islanders did not have much momentum in the final frame of regulation, but that all changed when they upped the physicality even further. Oliver Wahlstrom would clip Matthews with a low hit, and Leafs' defenseman Rasmus Sandin came to his defense and decided to drop his mitts with Wahlstrom. The fight changed the course of the game as the Islanders were able to tie the game from a Josh Bailey goal, and then eventually win in overtime due to the heroics of Anthony Beauvillier.
"“I think the [Wahlstrom] fight helps. The guy put in so much time this summer preparing himself for the season. To see him do that, it picks you up.”"- Cal Clutterbuck after the game
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Goaltending was the strong point for both teams today, and the Islanders have become accustomed to that when Ilya Sorokin takes the cage. Sorokin made 30 saves on 32 shots, and the two goals he let up can't be completely put on him. Tavares was left alone in the slot for a one-timer after a missed assignment on defense for the Isles' penalty kill proved costly. Matthews scored on a redirect that went off of a defender's leg slightly but otherwise was a skillful deflection to the roof of the net that most goalies are not stopping. He had many great saves in this game, but his best certainly came on the doorstep where he had to stretch to get a pad on Calle Jarnkrok's bid, keeping Toronto from taking a two-goal lead.
For the first time in a long time as well, the Islanders ended up switching their defensive pairings before the game. Sebastian Aho jumped up to the second pairing alongside Dobson while
Alexander Romanov dropped down to the third pairing with Scott Mayfield, and that move paid off quickly as Dobson's game-opening goal was assisted directly off of an Aho pass. Beauvillier also showed immense confidence throughout the game, attempting more shots than usual from many different areas around the net, and was of course rewarded in overtime by labeling a shot for the top corner behind goaltender Erik Källgren. A great sign for a forward that has struggled with inconsistency early in the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Islanders' start to the game was not too hot, to say the least. There was no aggression or urgency at all out of the gates, where they just watched the puck and followed it around in their own zone while not playing to their usual structure. The third line of JG Pageau, Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise got trapped in their own zone for over two minutes. This gave the Maple Leafs a fleury of scoring chances, leaving Sorokin with the duty of making big saves. Luckily for the Islanders, they ended up flipping the script and played with better discipline later on.
STATS OF THE GAME
- According to Eric Hornick and The Skinny, Beauvillier has now tied for 5th place in regular season overtime goals for the Islanders with current MSG analyst Thomas Hickey.
- Cal Clutterbuck was credited with nine hits tonight, and in the process established a new NHL record for most career hits since the stat began being recorded in the 2005-06 season. Romanov also ended up with nine hits.
- Mat Barzal is the first Islander player since Bryan Trottier to have 20 assists in 20 games, who last accomplished that in the 1986-87 season.
- Dobson is tied for third in defensemen goals with Adam Fox (6); only Erik Karlsson (11) and Rasmus Dahlin (7) have more.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
Before the game, fans got to ask Thomas Hickey questions for him to answer on the MSG broadcast, and he refused to give away his secrets. After the game, he even got a compliment from Beauvillier, so seems like everyone can't get enough of Hickey's appearance.
The Islanders will travel back home to play Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Thanksgiving Eve. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM on Wednesday evening.