HOW IT HAPPENED
It may have been the best 60-minute effort of the season from the NY Islanders, as they defeated the Washington Capitals 5-1 in the final home game of 2023. The French connection of JG Pageau and Julien Gauthier put forth their best performances of the season, finishing the night with four and three points, respectively. Pageau got the scoring started, hammering home a one-timer off a pass from Alexander Romanov. Noah Dobson added to the Isles' total 1:10 later, scoring his first in 19 games and sixth of the season. Gauthier extended the lead to three in the third period, and added a second, sliding another home 18 seconds later. Ilya Sorokin was sound from the get-go, allowing just a single goal on a puck that jumped over his stick as he tried to clear it to the corner with 18 seconds remaining.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
It was a much-needed game following the blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Mat Barzal addressed the media, expressing the disappointment the team had in themselves, and vowing to put on a better performance for the fans.
"A sold out rink like that in front of our fans, it's unacceptable," said Barzal. " We got a game in two days that we'll be ready for, and put on a better show for them."
Put on a better show they did, as all 18 skaters and the goaltender put their best foot forward against a Capitals team chasing the Isles in the standings.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Sorokin's unfortunate blunder at the end of the game was just about the only thing not to go the Islanders way on the night. He wasn't tested much and looked sound on the shots he did face.
Ken Appleby donned the NY Islanders crest for the first time this season, as Semyon Varlamov is day-to-day after an apparent injury suffered in Wednesday's game against the Pens.
STATS OF THE GAME
- Julien Gauthier's three points and two goals were the first time he's accomplished either in his career.
- With his goal tonight, Dobson takes sole possession of third in points among all NHL defensemen, with 35
- Matt Martin drew back into the lineup, playing 11:32 in his first action since Nov. 15.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
After Brendan Burke was without a sidekick on Dec. 23rd, he was given a full compliment of analysts tonight, with Butch Goring, Thomas Hickey, and Corey Schneider all in attendance.
The Isles close out 2023 on Sunday for a revenge game with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drop will be at 6:00 pm.