The Upshot: NY Islanders Finally Get an Empty Netter in 5-3 Win Over the Detroit Red Wings

New York Islanders v Detroit Red Wings
New York Islanders v Detroit Red Wings / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

HOW IT HAPPENED

The NY Islanders FINALLY scored an empty net goal to secure a 5-3 win over the red-hot Detroit Red Wings. The Islanders seem to be improving on their short road trip through the West - coming off of a win in Dallas, the team came out strong in the first period, outplaying the Wings both in speed and strength. Brock Nelson opened the scoring by picking Ben Chiarot's pocket close in front and sending the puck into the toy department. Newly formed third-line magic was happening all over the ice tonight, most notably with the Islanders' second goal of the game. An Adam Pelech shot going so wide left until Casey Cizikas tips it perfectly past Alex Lyon. Olli Maatta scored his first of the game, and the lone goal of the second period to bring the Wings within one. Who else but Patrick Kane to score the game-tying goal 10 seconds into the third period, scoring his 13th goal in just 28 games. Nelson's shot keeps improving, sniping one past the goaltender off a great feed by Kyle Palmieri on the power play for a 3-2 lead. Maatta was able to tie it at three after a defensive breakdown by the Isles, and suddenly fans were having major PTSD about third-period leads. Luckily, Mat Barzal took advantage of a loose puck, with Lyon having no idea where it was, utilizing his confusion Barzal banked one off the goaltender's back for the game-winning goal. And finally, the moment fans have been waiting for all 59 games, Pierre Engvall did it, he scored the Islanders' first empty net goal of the season. For the first time all season, fans could let out their deep breaths for the final 50 seconds of the game, knowing Engvall had iced it.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

The third line changed the pace of this game. Cizikas finally has wingers that can keep up with him in Simon Holmstrom and Engvall, and for two players who needed to start playing a bit better, this change-up has lit a spark. Head coach Patrick Roy noted the "Swedish connection" between his two wingers and their improvement since playing alongside one another. All three players are fast, solid puck movers, and it finally allows Holmstrom to develop on his natural side on Zeeker's left. There was contribution from up and down the lineup for the first time in a while, even the fourth line felt alive with Kyle MacLean back at center.

From the start of the game, the Islanders were the stronger team, using their strength and checking abilities to their advantage. While that may not make the biggest impact in terms of stats or overall gameplay, being the better checking team allowed the Isles to control their play.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Special teams continue to be a struggle for the Islanders. Forget blown leads and bad defensive plays late in the game, the Islanders can't win games if their power play keeps looking the way it does now. Barzal even noted in his press conference just how bad the first two power plays of the game were, they got only a few shots on goal, and that first unit especially spent very little time in the offensive zone.

STATS OF THE GAME

Per Brendan Burke on the broadcast, tonight was the 38th time in 59 games played that the Islanders have had a 2-goal lead

Per Rob Taub, tonight was the 20th time the Islanders blew a 3rd-period lead all season (thats 1/3 of all games played)

Per Stefan Rosner, tonight's win marked just the 7th time this season the Islanders have strung two or more wins together.

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

RAISE THAT BANNER!!!!

WHATS NEXT

The Islanders head home to face off against the Boston Bruins for the final time this season. Puck drop is at 7:30 pm.