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Islanders 6, Predators 2: Tavares, Eberle lead Isles

The power play went from leaking goals against to contributing to half the goals on the night as Jordan Eberle scores his first two goals of the season and John Tavares gets a natural hat trick.

NHL: New York Islanders at Nashville Predators
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After a disastrous game in Minnesota against the Wild, the New York Islanders needed a result in Nashville. Head coach Doug Weight made a few changes to the line up, taking out Thomas Hickey and Scott Mayfield and putting in Ryan Pulock and Dennis Seidenberg instead. Pulock made a case to stay in as he scored his first of the season with his booming shot on the power play, and both John Tavares and Jordan Eberle’s three point nights led the Islanders to a 6-2 win over the Nashville Predators.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | Corsica | HockeyViz]

First Period

The Islanders came out strong, taking advantage of their tired opponents. About three minutes in to the period, Ryan Johansen took a penalty for hooking. After last game, Isles fans would be forgiven for wanting to decline the penalty. Nashville even had a chance to pounce on a turnover on the power play, but this time the Islanders were prepared. With Ryan Pulock now on the second power play unit, he and Anthony Beauvillier combined to move the puck well and eventually find an open Jordan Eberle, who was able to get the puck past Juuse Saros for his first goal as a New York Islander.

This was definitely a much better effort by the Islanders, and they took advantage of the fact that the Predators had to travel back from Chicago last night for tonight’s game. The Isles attempted 21 shots in the period, dominating the Preds.

Second Period

While the Isles came out to start the period strong, Filip Forsberg tied the game at the beginning of the second. Kevin Fiala was able to get to the net with speed and drew two defenders, leaving Forsberg open for the rebound to tie the game 1-1.

Mathew Barzal put in a few excellent shifts in the second period, and drew a hooking penalty after beating Anthony Bitetto to the puck. The power play struck quickly, with Brock Nelson winning the faceoff in the offensive zone. Beauvillier was able to get the puck to Pulock, who showed why he’s lethal on the man advantage, sending a one timer past Saros to restore the lead.

The Predators then took a bench minor, where Doug Weight opted to go with that second power play unit again. However, Nashville was more structured defensively, and the Isles couldn’t take advantage of back to back power plays. The Preds pushed back after the two penalties, but were unable to convert.

Eberle scored his second of the game and of the season with under a minute left in the period. Barzal was able to bring the puck into the offensive zone where he found Eberle who took a slapshot that beat Saros. At first, it looked like Barzal tipped the shot in, but upon an overhead replay, it became clear that it was Eberle’s goal. The Isles ended the second period up 3-1.

Third Period

Just 12 seconds into the period, John Tavares extended the Isles’ lead. Tavares’ forechecking was a big part of the play, as he was able to block a clearing attempt behind the net into the path of Anders Lee. Tavares got back to the front of the net and deflected Lee’s shot in.

Shortly after killing off a penalty, Lee scored to make it 5-1. The puck deflected off Yannick Weber and Calle Jarnkrok and behind Saros. It was initially thought to be another goal for the captain, then the NHL gave credit to Lee, then gave it back to Tavares after he had already scored again.

Then, Tavares drew a penalty and scored on the ensuing power play, giving him a delayed hat trick on the night. Tavares’ goal set the Islanders’ even on the power play this season, and it was his ninth of the season, and second hat trick of the season.

Craig Smith scored at the end of a Nashville power play, giving the Preds their second of the night. However, it would be too little, too late, as the Islanders defeated the Predators, 6-2.

Thoughts & Notes

  • Mathew Barzal is going to be very special. His movement on the ice and his pinpoint passes (notably one to Eberle that he was unable to convert on) have led to some great opportunities. Barzal drew the penalty that led to the game winning goal as well. It’s going to be exciting when he gets a little more confident and comfortable in the NHL.
  • Whatever took place between the game against Minnesota and the game tonight clearly worked to get the Islanders motivated and fixed the power play, converting on three of four of the man advantages. Hopefully it doesn’t stay feast or famine, and the power play begins to sort itself out.

Up Next

Next, the Islanders return to the Barclays Center to host the extremely hot Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights currently hold an 8-1-0 record and have gotten off to the best start in NHL expansion team history. It’ll be a fun game and a chance to see if the NHL’s newest team is for real or not.