For the third game of their road trip, on Thursday in Los Angeles the New York Islanders had the unenviable task of playing back-to-back on the road against a rested team while trying to bounce back from a goaltender stoning the night before.
Fortunately, they did not have to really “travel” for the second leg to the City of Angels, and the Kings did not put up nearly the same goaltending performance as John Gibson in Anaheim on Wednesday. In a 7-2 blowout, they chased Jonathan Quick — himself returning from injury — though they lost Robin Lehner late after he took a shot around the head.
It helped that the opponent is struggling. In thumping the now 2-4-1 Kings, the Isles perhaps also took advantage of a team in the old “first home game after a long road trip” mode of rust or discombobulation, or what have you. They were missing Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. But your headline may be: Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Valtteri Filppula (twice!) and Andrew Ladd all scored.
Third Period Turning Point: Grinder Goals Galore
We’ll go in reverse here, because things got crazy in the final 20 minutes.
The final score was indeed a blowout, but it didn’t get to that stage until a wonderful four goals on four consecutive shots from unlikely sources in the third period blew open a close game that was on the verge of being tied.
The Islanders, who never trailed, took a 3-1 lead into that final frame. But an Andrew Ladd penalty put the Kings on the power play, and a Komorov puck-over-the-class call gave them a two-man advantage.
Jeff Carter cashed in on the 5-on-3 at 2:54 and the Kings were sniffing an equalizer. Instead, Ladd won the battle for a rim entry with a gassed Drew Doughty and created a 2-on-0 with Filppula, which The Dashing Finn converted for a much-needed shorthanded goal:
That restored the Isles’ two-goal lead and, as it turned out, opened the floodgates. In the words of Kings coach John Stevens, “We just stopped playing. Can’t explain it, to be honest, we just stopped playing.”
Just one minute later, Martin — who returned to the lineup after sitting for Ross Johnston — absolutely sniped on a setup from Cizikas with Cal Clutterbuck providing a perfect screen of Jonathan Quick:
#Isles haven't scored this many in LA since Dec. 1998— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 19, 2018
It was five minutes before the Isles’ next shot, Uncle Leo deflecting in his first goal as an Islanders with Thomas Hickey also crashing the net:
That one made it 6-2 and ended Quick’s night. Ladd wrapped up scoring a couple of minutes later at 11:20, a sweet deflection of a Scott Mayfield point shot:
Last time the #Isles scored this many in LA John Tonelli had two goals. For the Kings. Oct. 1989.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 19, 2018
Ladd now has two goals in his two games since returning from an injury that forced him to miss most of training camp. There will be more of those, of course, if he continues lining up with Mathtew Barzal, who had two more assists on the night.
Filppula has four(!) goals on seven shots this season (a pace that, of course, will not continue but is nice to have when you’re hot).
When those guys are scoring and Komarov and Martin too, it’s a good night.
Before All That
To get to the third period with a lead, the Isles put in a solid night-long effort that began with Cizikas opening scoring on a long rebound 4:55 into the game. Though Tyler Toffoli tied it at 1-1 on a power play deflection 10 minutes later, the Islanders retook the lead early on a power play early in the second period.
Josh Bailey did the damage on a great snipe coming from the right-wing faceoff circle while Anders Lee took the beating as he created havoc in front of the net. Jordan Eberle had created space for Bailey with a neat short pass from the slot after receiving the puck from Barzal.
That gave the Isles a 2-1 lead, and Filppula’s first of the night on a great Komarov setup made it 3-1 at 12:07. It was still a close game, but the Isles were doing the right things as they carried that lead into the third.
Barry Trotz says no update on G Robin Lehner right now. Would not say whether goalie went through concussion protocol.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 19, 2018
I couldn’t find the spot where Lehner took a shot around the mask, and it wasn’t clear if he took himself out or if a concussion spotter raised the alarm. But Lehner, who stopped 28 shots, was taken out with just over seven minutes left and headed to the dressing room.
Thomas Greiss stopped all five shots in mop-up duty.
In the post-game, Trotz was clearly thrilled with how things went, praising the defense and of course “the veterans leading the way. ... That’s how we’re going to look,” he said. After losing despite a strong how-we-want-to-play effort the previous night in Anaheim, he has to be pleased they didn’t let that disappointment get to them on the second leg.
The Islanders next play in San Jose, where the Sharks won tonight and where Greiss has had his share of success over the years.