First PeriodThe New York Islanders took to the ice against the Anaheim Ducks in an east versus west battle that saw both teams trying to get back to statistical .500. The Islanders started off horribly with the Ducks immediately gaining the zone off of a Ryan Getzlaf dump in. Josh Manson picked up the lose puck on a rather aggressive pinch then fired the puck to Andrew Cogliano who tipped it past Jaroslave Halak only 37 seconds into the game. Halak looked notably upset as if he should have had it, but both Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk were caught napping a bit.
The Islanders quickly got a chance to even the score as they went on the power play thanks a slashing call by Antoine Vermette on Thomas Hickey just 1:19 later. It was an atypical power play for the Islanders as the second unit looked better than the first. Andrew Ladd got the puck into the crease off of John Gibson, but it slipped past Brock Nelson. A flurry of shots ensued, but the Ducks were able to stop everything. The power play expired as the Islanders woes continued - zero power play goals in their first eleven opportunities.
The Ducks received their first power play opportunity 9:56 in Calvin de Haan's stick was tangled in between Chris Wagner's legs. Wagner went down which resulted in de Haan getting two minutes for tripping. Anaheim looked abysmal on the power play and the only real play of note saw Boychuk demolish Jakob Silfverberg along the end boards. The penalty kill broke the statistical tie the Islanders had with the Ducks as it put them at zero for 12. Only the Ottawa Senators started the evening worse at zero for 16.
Shortly thereafter the Islanders had an offensive zone faceoff with Brock Nelson on the draw. Nelson won in cleanly to Josh Ho-Sang who then quickly passed it back to Scott Mayfield. Mayfield fired it and it was Nelson who was able to tip it out of Gibson to tie the game up at one with six minutes and 51 seconds left in the period.
Anaheim simply couldn't control the puck at all and the Islanders had outshot the ducks 21 to six at the end of the first. They also had ten high danger scoring chances to the Ducks two in five on five situations and definitely deserved to be out in front, but they failed to put away too many opportunities and Gibson looked fantastic. The end result was a one-all tie headed into the first intermission.
Second PeriodThe period started off with the Islanders gaining the upper hand this time. Anders Lee was far too strong for Cam Fowler and drew a slashing penatly to the hands sending them to the power play just 33 seconds into the period. Boychuk had a typical blast from the point that rattled Kevin Beiksa, but the Islanders couldn't capitalize managing just one shot on the power play, sending them to zero for eight to start the year.
Scott Mayfield was a bit too aggressive with Corey Perry bearing down on him and got his elbow up into Perry's face sending Anaheim to their second power play 4:35 in. While the Islanders hardly did a stellar job getting the puck out of the zone, they did manage to keep it to the edge for the most part. Halak made two relatively inoccuous saves to keep the score even.
The Ducks managed to take the lead 8:39 seconds into the period when Fowler fired a shot from the side boards was deflected by Rickard Rakell. Adam Pelech was caught watching a bit, but given the location from where the deflection came from it was one that Halak probably should have had.
The Ducks got another power play opportunity only six seconds later when Ho-Sang was called for hooking right off the faceoff. The Ducks had a nice looking power play in which Halak had to stop four shots, but they failed to put any of them home. Ho-Sang exited the box and the Islanders exited the zone with little complication.
The Islanders had a chance to break their power play drought with 6:03 left in the period. Vermette made an absolutely careless play on Casey Cizikas by tripping him when he din't have the puck. They called it interference, but it could have been one of about three different penalties.
The power play nearly didn't happen as Pelech had a chance to blast one, but it just didn't have enough height on it and Gibson made the glove save. The Islanders went on the power play and had control for most of the time, but they barely made Gibson move in the process. He made a couple of relatively easy saves to kill it off.
They got yet another power play chance with 3:31 left when Hickey drew an illegal check to the head penalty on Jared Boll. The incredibly sloppy play by Boll was matched with an equally sloppy power play with John Tavares getting the lone good look. The power play ended and as the back-and-forth power play struggles continued between the two teams.
The rest of the period wound down with nothing else going. The Ducks managed to narrow the shot margin, but most importantly escaped with the two to one lead into the second intermission. Shots were 32 to 22 in favor of the Islanders.
Third PeriodAnother bad penalty by Boll on Nelson put the Islanders on the power play for the fifth time 2:57 into the period. Once again, they squandered it. They had just one shot on goal the entire time and it wasn't a particularly good look either.
The Ducks didn't waste much time from there growing their lead. Getzlaf once again got the puck in deep and once again it was Manson behind the net who caused the Islanders trouble. He played the puck over to Patrick Eaves who absolutely launched one. Halak was too far over to the left post and the puck beat him blocker side giving the Ducks a three to one lead with 14:28 left.
The Islanders didn't take a lot of time narrowing the defecit back down to one. Ho-Sang dangled through the centered of the blue line and dropped it off for Nelson. Nelson showed off his magnificent wrist shot and beat Gibson five hole 7:57 in.
Anthony Beauvillier took a slash with 10:28 remaining in the period putting the Ducks back on the power play. It looked as though the Ducks expanded their lead when Derek Grant used his length to tip a shot from Brandon Montour past Halak 11:25 in. Fortunately for the Islanders the play was ruled offsides after a challenge by Doug Weight and the score remained three to two.
The Islanders pressed late as they attempted to narrow the score. Perhaps the best look came off the stick of Ladd who fired one off Gibson, grabbed his own rebound, wrapped around the net, and attempted to slide it into Cizikas, but the defense was able to break it up. The Ducks were eventually able to clear.
The Islanders emptied the net and called a time out with 1:24 left in the game. Nelson nearly had a shot at the hat trick, but Gibson poke checked the puck off his stick and the puck emptied the zone. The Islanders had a few more chances and the Ducks had some shots from their own end on the empty net, but neither team managed to score as the Islanders fell to the Ducks by a score of three to two.
In ClosingThe Islanders played better for much of this game, but the power play was atrocious getting shut out in five attempts and it ultimately cost them at least a point. With that being said, Gibson was outstanding and the Islanders have had 96 shots in the last two games with only one point to show for it; it isn't the systems, but rather the players not executing. Whether or not that's a failure by the players to execute, not having the talent to do be able to do so, or just bad luck is completely different discussion. As it stands their next opponents in the San Jose Sharks are struggling themselves, so hopefully that presents the opportunity for them to right the ship.
First Star -John gibson
Second Star -Brock Nelson
Third Star -Josh Manson