As we’ve often seen, teams coming off extended rest time (such as the Islanders’ 5 days between games) have struggled early in their next game. The Isles were no exception this, and were completely dominated by the Nashville Predators in the first period of tonight’s hockey game. The three goals scored in quick succession at the end of the first were too much for the Islanders to come back from, despite a strong second period effort, as they fell 5-2 and the Predators swept the season series.
Robin Lehner really kept the Islanders in the game early on, as the Preds outshot, out-chanced, and overall outplayed the Isles, who looked like they were sleepwalking through the period. Unfortunately, when you give up 14 (!!!) scoring chances to an elite team, they’re bound to convert, and in the last 5 minutes of the period, Calle Jarnkrok, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson all scored, taking advantage of the listless Islanders.
That was, quite literally, one of the worst periods I have ever seen.— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) October 14, 2018
24-11 NSH shot attempts
14-3 NSH scoring chances
7-0 NSH high danger chances
3-0 NSH goals
Here's the heatmap. That was pathetic. pic.twitter.com/fOSBIBOiel
Last season, that might have been the beginning of a complete team meltdown, but the 2018-19 iteration of the Islanders did bounce back, especially the Nelson line. That led to the first Islanders goal of the game, where Jordan Eberle got the puck up ice to Anders Lee, who found Nelson streaking towards the net. Nelson put the puck past Juuse Saros, scoring his 100th goal of his NHL career, all with the Islanders. He’s the 31st Islanders player to do so.
As part of Barry Trotz’s decision to mix lines, the returning Andrew Ladd skated with Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey. Ladd and Barzal had played together last season, and did fairly well together until Ladd was injured and Beauvillier had a breakout second half of the season to claim that spot. However, with Beauvillier’s slow start, it was worth a try to get Ladd going there, and it worked. On their first shift together, Barzal got the puck down low behind the net, waited for the perfect pass, and found Ladd, who shot the puck past Saros, beating him over the shoulder into the far corner of the net.
The setup from @Barzal_97. The goal from @aladd16. We've got a hockey game on our hands, folks.— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) October 14, 2018
Watch the final period of the @NYislanders game on MSG+ & https://t.co/9032j80fse. #Isles pic.twitter.com/lqLMcOXaOm
Unfortunately, that was the end of the Isles’ offensive surge. Anders Lee took the first penalty of the game for the Isles, and a poor clear from Thomas Hickey on the ensuing penalty kill resulted in Kyle Turris’ first goal of the season, giving the Predators a 4-2 lead.
A late Hickey penalty also hurt the Islanders’ chances to pull the goalie with more time left in the game, but ultimately Forsberg was able to end the game with an empty net goal, giving the Preds the 5-2 win.
- Robin Lehner was the only player keeping the Isles in the game for most of the first period, but that can’t continue. There’s only so much the goaltender can do for you when you’re generating almost zero offense in an entire period of the game.
- Despite that awful first period, the Isles did make a strong comeback attempt. Some of that may have been due to score effects, but there are some positives to look at going forward when they aren’t facing one of the best teams in the league.
- Congrats to Brock Nelson, who got his 100th goal of his NHL career!
- Mat Barzal is still good at hockey.
Next, the New York Islanders take on the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, October 17th, kicking off the annual West Coast road trip. The Ducks are 3-1-1 so far on the season, but will be missing Corey Perry for most of the year, and could potentially be missing Ryan Getzlaf as well. It’ll be the first game of a back-to-back for the Islanders, when they’ll play the Los Angeles Kings on the 18th.