HOW IT HAPPENED
The NY Islanders were once again limited to scoring just two goals in a 5-2 defeat at Scotiabank Arena at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Anders Lee certainly came to play last night and even changed his blade tape to try something new, and it seemed to work. He scored two goals with the first coming at the tail end of a hard-working first period and the other in response to a William Nylander goal in the second. At that point, the score was 2-1 in favor of the Islanders, but Nylander and his line with John Tavares got red hot in the second period. Tavares scored on the backhand on a half-breakaway to tie the game, and two minutes later left-wing Calle Jarnkrok beat Ilya Sorokin to score the eventual game-winner. Nylander scored again later in the period to make it 4-2 and bring his total to four points in the second period alone. Auston Matthews scored his 25th of the season in the third period to just about seal the game for the Leafs and hand the Islanders another loss.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
While it has certainly become a pattern lately that the Isles start off hot and then cool off dramatically for the rest of the game, their play in the first period in all facets was commendable. They outworked the Maple Leafs and dominated possession in the first period, and Lee's goal with 23 seconds to go was almost an award for their effort.
A few players also played a key role in that great effort that we have not seen on the ice in a while. Both Adam Pelech and Kyle Palmieri were activated off of injured reserve and inserted into the lineup, and Palmieri specifically was buzzing registering an assist and a career-high seven hits, to go along with nine shot attempts. Samuel Bolduc was also called up to fill in for Noah Dobson in his first NHL contest, and he looked like he belonged there much more than Parker Wotherspoon or even Robin Salo. The AHL all-star was trusted by Lane Lambert, logging 14:28 of TOI in his debut, and had one shot, three attempts, and three hits. He was not on the ice for any goals against either.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The second period got out of hand when compared to the first with all of the goals being scored. After Lee responded quickly to the first Nylander goal, the Isles as they have recently just left Sorokin out to dry. The Toronto goals can be attributed to defensive breakdowns, and Sorokin could have stopped a couple of the goals for sure albeit great shots taken by the Leafs' players. On the Tavares, Jarnkrok and Matthews goals, all three players were somehow able to spring free enough ahead of the Islanders' defenseman, two of those instances coming against Ryan Pulock who did not have his strongest game on the back end. Alexander Romanov even caused a penalty shot to be awarded to Michael Bunting, but Sorokin still saved it. The Maple Leafs without a doubt are a very strong team in the Eastern Conference this season, but complacency and irresponsibility were the cause of this loss and the Islanders yet again failed to remember how to play a complete hockey game, costing them two huge points as they are still somehow just three points out of the Wild Card race.
STATS OF THE GAME
- According to Eric Hornick in The Skinny, the Islanders went 0-2 on the power play. They are 3-for-31 in the last 13 games and 3-for-56 in the last 21 games on the man advantage.
- The Isles have not scored a third-period goal in a franchise-record 10 straight games and have been outscored 12-0 during that stretch.
- New York's third-period goal differential is now just +1; the Isles were +16 in the third period through 23 games but are -15 over the last 26 games.
- Tavares had eight shots on goal in the second period, tying a record both for the Leafs and against the Islanders.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
In the second period, Nelson took quite the spill that led him to yank out a loose tooth while on the bench, which coincidentally we have also seen Tavares do while wearing an Islanders sweater. Even while not playing his best hockey, Nelson shows he's still a hockey guy.
The Islanders will head over to Canada's capital to face off against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM.