The Upshot: The NY Islanders Rebound for a Convincing Win in the Desert

The Isles defeated the tenacious Arizona Coyotes 5-1, on the road at Mullett Arena after losing in overtime in Colorado earlier this week.
Jan 4, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; The New York Islanders celebrate after beating the Arizona Coyotes
Jan 4, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; The New York Islanders celebrate after beating the Arizona Coyotes / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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Last night, the NY Islanders defeated the Arizona Coyotes by the score of 5-1, on the strength of two goals from Bo Horvat and another two points apiece from All-Star Mathew Barzal and (should-be) All-Star Noah Dobson.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Islanders started strong in the first period, with goals by Horvat and Mike Reilly setting the tone for the evening. The Isles started the second period off on their heels, with Nick Schmaltz scoring a pretty power play goal for the 'Yotes. But after weathering that storm, the Islanders broke the game open in the third period, with Anders Lee and Julien Gauthier scoring goals 52 seconds apart. Horvat's second goal 13 minutes into the third period finished Arizona off and gave the Isles their 5-1 lead. Ilya Sorokin was strong in net again, with 25 saves in the win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Last night, most things went right. The top line was terrific again, and Noah Dobson continued putting points on the board. Julien Gauthier has earned every minute of ice time he has gotten recently, as he scored his 5th goal of the season last night. Gauthier is unlikely to come out of the lineup any time soon, as his fit with JG Pageau and Simon Holmstrom has been seamless on the third line. Mike Reilly continues to impress, and the defense overall is continuing to play well while dealing with injuries to Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Robert Bortuzzo. Ilya Sorokin, after an uncharacteristically rough start to his season, has continued his emergence, with 25 saves on 26 shots against for the win last night.

Ilya Sorokin
Ilya Sorokin's turnaround could not have come at a better time for the NY Islanders. / Rich Graessle/GettyImages

WHAT WENT WRONG

Basically, it is not ideal that this game was not worth more than two points in the standings. The Islanders showed up in every facet of the game, including in the stands, with a vocal contingent of Isles fans making the trip to the desert. It may be nitpicking after a strong overall game, but neither Kyle Palmieri nor Pierro Engvall had a point. The Isles' second line, which largely fueled their run to the playoffs last season, has not been as strong this season, as also evidenced by Engvall's recent healthy scratch.

STATS OF THE GAME

  • Mathew Barzal became the 17th player in Islanders history to record 400 points with the team. Can you name the other 16?
  • Ilya Sorokin's .962 save percentage last night brings him up to a .912 save percentage on the season. As Sorokin continues to get hot, his overall numbers for the season have gotten better and better.
  • If the Islanders hold on in the second half and Sorokin remains hot, he could make a dark horse run at his first Vezina Trophy. For the season, Sorokin has saved 7.6 goals above expected, which ranks 12th in the NHL among goalies with 15 or more games.
  • Mike Reilly had 6 shots on goal for the Islanders, the most for an Isles defenseman in a game this season. Denis Potvin has the Isles' record for SOG in a game for a defenseman, putting up 11 (!!) SOG on April 1, 1978.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

Islanders fans really showed up last night in Arizona, as they could be heard all throughout the game on TV. Nice work, Isles fans!

WHAT'S NEXT?

The Islanders continue their road trip with a Saturday night game in Las Vegas against the Golden Knights. Expect a tough game tomorrow night, which is a good reason the Isles secured two points last night against the Coyotes. Puck drop in Vegas tomorrow night is scheduled for 10:00 PM EST.