HOW IT HAPPENED
This was a brutal one for any hockey fan to watch, as the NY Islanders were not ready for a Pittsburgh Penguins' led onslaught after the holiday break that ended in a 7-0 score. After a scoreless first period, the Penguins then scored six goals in the second period that got away from the Isles in a hurry. Kris Letang had five assists in the period and a team-high six points for the game. Jake Guentzel scored the second and third goals for Pittsburgh just 12 seconds apart at about the halfway mark, which was followed up by two goals from Evgeni Malkin. Marcus Pettersson also had four assists in the game, a career-high for him and only the third time he has had at least three points in a game. To top it all off, Valtteri Puustinen scored his first NHL goal on Semyon Varlamov to make it 7-0 in the third. Ilya Sorokin surrendered all six goals in the middle frame, finishing with a .760 save percentage on the night. Tristian Jarry made 22 saves in this game to forget for the Isles' players and their fans.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The only positive the Islanders can take away from this match was that they were able to stop the Penguins on all three of their power play opportunities. Granted, their man advantage is 25th in the league at 13.33 percent, but they boast some of the game's best stars all on one unit. This is also notable, considering that New York has the second-worst penalty kill in the league at 71.84 percent, so a game without allowing a power-play goal is a step in the right direction for that aspect of the game. Also, Sidney Crosby went pointless (and shot-less) against the team that he has scored the most on throughout his career, so at least Islanders fans did not need to endure another Crosby-led night, especially when he is two points away from tying Joe Thornton at 12th on the all-time scoring list. Otherwise, not much good to say about the home team's performance.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Where do we even begin?
Let's start with the offense. The Isles only mustered four shots in the first period while only allowing five from the Pens, but then Pittsburgh outshot them 20-7 in that dreadful second period. Throughout the whole game, there were a few decent chances to score here and there, but obviously, they could not finish. Jarry did not have to work very hard to make saves in tight and only had to look sharp in a few moments.
"Sold out rink like that tonight in front of our fans, it's unacceptable. We have a game in two days that we'll be ready for and put on a better show for them."- Mathew Barzal following the loss
The defense was atrocious from the forwards up front to the backend. Pittsburgh thrived everywhere in the Isles' D-zone, whether it was in the corners, in the blue paint, or even in the slot, and the lack of effort was noticeable from a team that is known for working hard for 60 minutes. Sorokin, albeit the team in front of him did not help, had his worst game of the season without a doubt as he failed to make some usually routine saves during the avalanche of Penguins goals. It wasn't just one specific line that can be blamed badly today, as seven Islanders players finished with a -3 on the night, and only Noah Dobson finished with a -4. The sole line that did not allow a goal today was the fourth line consisting of Hudson Fasching, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck, and even Clutterbuck took two irresponsible penalties. Hopefully, every player wearing blue and orange on Wednesday night can reset after arguably their worst outing of the season as they'll be playing Pittsburgh again in just four days.
STATS OF THE GAME
- Letang's five assists in the second period are the most assists by a defenseman in a single period in NHL history, a new record.
- The last time the Islanders were shutout by a score of 7-0 came in 2017 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout in that game.
- This is only the third time since 2019 that the Islanders have surrendered seven goals in one game, the others coming against the St. Louis Blues in 2022-23, and the other coming this season against the Colorado Avalanche. Both of those games ended with 7-4 scores.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
"The Park" right outside UBS Arena has opened up, which contains two outdoor rinks, a beer garden, heated igloos, and carnival games. Some Isles Alumni even stopped by on NHL Network before the game started, such as Denis Potvin, Pat LaFontaine, and Patrick Flatley.
The Isles will attempt to bounce back on Friday night as they host the Washington Capitals. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM.