HOW IT HAPPENED
The NY Islanders did not come into this game as favorites by any means against the Winnipeg Jets at home, as they have been on a masterful roll atop the league standings while the Isles are sliding. The Jets played a very sound game, shutting the Isles' glued-together lines down mostly and finding ways to score. Gabriel Vilardi opened the scoring halfway through the first period before Anders Lee deflected one through to tie the game at one. Lee scored two goals in the game. Neal Pionk scored one of the more bizarre goals you will ever see in the second period, firing a power play goal home after Ilya Sorokin's skate blade fell off from a prior shot. Mason Appleton scored the game-winner about two minutes later, and Kyle Connor put the game away with the empty netter in his first game back from injury. Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves on 37 shots in the win, while Sorokin stopped 40 of 43.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what went right because it seemed like what could go wrong went wrong for New York. One positive is that Sorokin, who is not having the best statistical season for his standards, made it four straight games where he has not allowed more than three goals. He has given them a chance to win in each game, and today was no different. Bad breaks led to Winnipeg goals but otherwise, he did everything they could ask from him. Lee chipping in twice on the scoresheet is also a pleasant surprise, with him typically scoring every five games or so. He was one of the better players on the ice with the goals aside, providing six shots on goal, and was one of five players with a +1 rating. Kyle Palmieri, albeit playing on a line that we will speak more on in a moment, took eight shots Hellebuyck's way, and Noah Dobson had five in a quiet night for him.
WHAT WENT WRONG
It certainly was not a perfect game for the Islanders, far from it, but puck luck was not on their side at all. It started with Vilardi's goal in the first period, where Josh Morrisey's shot from the blue line hit Adam Lowry first and then Vilardi, leaving no chance for Sorokin to react. Then, Sorokin's skate blade was hit in the perfect spot for it to fall off, leading to a goal against moments later because he could not push to the other post. Maybe a scenario we will not see again for years. The Appleton goal just barely squeaked through Sorokin, who banked it in from behind the net. There were even bad bounces that didn't result in goals but resulted in high-danger chances, so all in all the puck luck was not there. Taking five penalties was also not good, especially Dobson's, which came late in the third period.
The other gripe many fans have and have had for the entirety of their road trip has been the lines put out by Lane Lambert. Most people would agree that Mat Barzal playing third-line center next to Cal Clutterbuck and Simon Holmstrom is not working. It's no coincidence that this is the first time that Barzal has been held without at least one point in back-to-back games, and he's been held scoreless in three straight. He should be a full-time winger next to Bo Horvat, and that's that. The Hudson Fasching, Brock Nelson, and Palmieri line has not held up well either, with the entire line earning a -2 rating on the night. Having Oliver Wahlstrom on the first line is also not ideal when Lambert refuses to play him for more than ten minutes per game. Casey Cizikas being injured is a sizeable hit to the lineup, but it should not have led to such a drastic lineup change that has not shown any promise.
STATS OF THE GAME
According to Islanders beat report Stefen Rosner:
- This is the first time Barzal has been held scoreless in three straight games all season long.
- After this game, Sorokin has faced 40+ shots 25 times over the last three seasons, which is second in the NHL behind Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson, who has faced 40+ shots 32 different times during that span.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
They may not have played at UBS Arena, but plenty of Isles fans showed up to donate blood as they partnered with NY Blood Center for the cause.
The Isles will finish off their road trip in Illinois against the Connor Bedard-less Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 PM.