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Islanders 4*, Kings 2 (EN): Lee scores twice and Berube beats his old team

The Kings started off on fire, but the Islanders evened things up and benefitted from some luck to win their third straight.

One of my beautiful boys does it again.
One of my beautiful boys does it again.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Kings of Los Angeles visited the Isles of Brooklyn. They hoped to conquer the tiny Isles, defenseless and recently bereft of their leader and strategist. A former King, one whose voice and spirit were buried under a cavalcade of long-standing, formerly victorious Kings, was chosen to withstand the onslaught of his more powerful, more experienced, and royally evil ex-compatriots.

In other words, the New York Islanders hosted the Los Angeles Kings, winners of two Stanley Cups in this decade, in only their second game without longtime coach Jack Capuano. Jean-Francois Berube was a former Kings goalie who was never able to crack the NHL squad full-time because "legendary-and-all-time-great-goalie-but-only-really-because-of-one-insane-playoff-run" Jonathan Quick and either Jonathan Bernier or Jhonas Enroth stood in his way, and was waived by them and claimed by us; he was selected to make his first start since the Isles went to two goalies - you know, like most teams.

With the Islanders playing a back-to-back of home games this weekend, it seems interim coach Doug Weight gave Berube a chance to show his former team what they missed out on. Another check-mark in Weight’s column that was an ‘X’ in Capuano’s (although playing your back-up goalie on one game of a back-to-back is an admittedly low bar to clear). His opponent was Peter Budaj, who has gotten the starter’s duties for the season with Quick out until at least April.

[Game SumEvent SumNatural Stat TrickHockeyViz]

The boys in blue and orange were again without Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ladd, and Cal Clutterbuck, so all the young forwards we want to see every game remained in, and Poised Young Man Adam Pelech (as per an old tweet from Arthur Staple) and Scott Mayfield stayed in the lineup on defense.

First Period: Royal kick in the rear, still up a goal

The Isles spent the first two and a half minutes getting shelled by the Kings, until Jason Chimera, who I recently begged of the team to sit, scored for the fourth time in five games on a goal that Peter Budaj would really like to have back. The shot, the Isles’ first of the game, was a high floater as Chimera skated down the wing that Budaj tried to play off his mask, and it just bounced off of him and trickled in.

The Islanders had a couple decent opportunities throughout the period, including a little dipsy-doodle from Calvin de Haan but the first frame was all Los Angeles. This isn’t terribly surprising, though - the Kings under Darryl Sutter have been a possession juggernaut, while the Isles this season have been a black hole. Berube stood tall against the team that drafted him. He stopped 14 shots, including a sneaky chance for former Ranger Marian Gaborik off a face-off in the Isles zone.

Of note, the Isles’ first line of Anders Lee and Josh Bailey flanking John Tavares was murdered by the Kings’ top line, Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Trevor Lewis.

Second Period: Back-and-forth play increases

In the opening minutes of the period, Jeff Carter skated in alone on Young Man (see old Arthur Staple tweet below) Adam Pelech, who kept him to the outside and kept the shot on Berube less-threatening.

Among the more impressive saves made by Berube was a flick off the stick of Dustin Brown down low that he just managed to get a toe on.

The Isles top line got a rare chance in the Kings zone and managed to generate a power play opportunity from it. On the PP, a puck almost escaped the zone but Nick Leddy made a deft play to keep it in and send it to Tavares. Tavares threw it at Budaj, and the rebound bounced to Lee, who shoved it home. Budaj complained that he was interfered with, but the refs determined he wasn’t and Sutter didn’t think it was worth a challenge.

Not long after, LA took a too-many-men penalty and the Isles maintained the momentum gained from the PP goal they had just scored. The Kings weren’t able to escape their zone until around the :50 mark of the kill, with the Islanders firing pucks at Budaj. Despite all this, the score remained 2-0.

Brock Nelson took a high-sticking penalty that was scored a slashing penalty but gave the Kings their first power play of the game either way. Their first PP was both extremely brief and potentially damaging, as Tanner Pearson took a shot off his hand in the first 5 seconds of the power play, and then Jake Muzzin interfered with Nikolay Kulemin as the Russian gained the neutral zone, likely on his way to a breakaway.

With the teams playing 4-on-4, Tavares forced a turnover in the offensive zone, stole the puck, and undressed Derek Forbort. Though the play ultimately didn’t result in a goal, it highlighted the confidence he’s been feeling coming into tonight’s game having scored seven in his last four.

He stayed out for the abbreviated man advantage, and as it ended, an LA defender found Muzzin breaking in alone coming out of the box. Nick Leddy prevented the breakaway chance, but in all the chaos, Tavares took a penalty that would carry over to the final period. Casey Cizikas did manage to get a shorthanded breakaway of his own, but couldn’t capitalize on it.

Third Period: Back-and-forth play peaks

The Islanders team shutout streak ended less than a minute into the period, while trying to kill Good Penalty Killer John Tavares’s penalty. A shot from the point was blocked by de Haan, but the puck skipped right to Jeff Carter, whose backhand doesn’t miss often. (Thomas Greiss can add to his own personal streak tomorrow; it sits at exactly 60 minutes, having been pulled directly after giving up a goal against the Hurricanes. *knocks on every piece of wood in my apartment.*)

Shortly after, toothless garbage-eater Drew Doughty sent a wrist shot from the point that deflected off the skate of Nick Leddy to tie the game at two apiece.

Fire-wagon hockey was the name of the game for the rest of the period, the two teams exchanging dangerous chances. Kopitar was swarmed by a few Isles, but made a gorgeous pass to Gaborik, whose shot hit Berube's shoulder and the post. Chimera found himself on a breakaway and was dragged down by Forbort. Many folks, including Doug Weight and Butch Goring, thought it should have been a penalty shot. Alas, Chimera wasn't actually ready to take a shot yet, so it was only a penalty.

No matter! Ryan Strome recovered the puck in the corner opposite the draw and hit Leddy at the point. Leddy wound up and fired it on goal, and it was tipped by Anders Lee only ten seconds into the power play. 3-2 Islanders on Lee's second goal of the game, and also, stunningly, their first game in which they've scored more than one power play goal.

The Kings were threatening with an empty net, but Doughty took a delay-of-game penalty, so that the Kings could only go 5-on-5 with their goalie on the bench. Weight sent out Tavares with Kulemin and Cizikas to defend against the Kings top players, and Tavares sealed the deal with an empty-net goal, giving him his eighth in five games.

What's Next

No rest for the wicked, as the Islanders (winners of three straight! [?!?!?!?]) return to play tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. against the Philadelphia Flyers. Luckily, they won't have to travel - a rare back-to-back entirely at home. It's on MSG+, but it is also the Free Game of the Week. There's also some football tomorrow. Hopefully the New England Patriots get spanked. That's all I care about. And Doug Weight is 2-0!