Though the numbers won’t reflect kindly on their performance, the New York Islanders got their first win of the season and first win under new head coach Barry Trotz on opening night. The Carolina Hurricanes outshot the Islanders 46-20, and sustained the majority of the offensive pressure. But what counts is what’s on the scoresheet, and goals from Valtteri Filppula and Josh Bailey earned the Isles the overtime victory.
It’s hard to judge a lot about the Islanders in just their first game against a Hurricanes team that’s been poised to make the leap into contender for the past three seasons, but few players stood out. The Isles struggled to generate consistent offensive pressure throughout the game, and didn’t look very different from last year’s historically bad team. The difference throughout the game was goaltending, and that may be in part due to experienced NHL goalie coach Mitch Korn’s presence. Either way, despite being significantly outshot, the Islanders escaped the first period tied 0-0.
The second period wasn’t much better for the Islanders, but the first goal of the season came from an unexpected place. Brock Nelson made a strong play by the boards to keep the puck and pass it off to Valtteri Filppula, who had plenty of space to put the puck past Petr Mrazek.
That would be the only goal of the second period, putting the Islanders up 1-0, despite all shot attempts favoring Carolina 58-28.
However, if you thought that would kickstart the offense, you’d be mistaken. The Islanders seemed content to try and sit back on their one-goal lead, which they did fairly effectively until the end of the period.
Interestingly, despite being majorly outpossessed in the third, they did good job closing off some of the areas they had left open earlier in the game. Only 1 high danger chance against in the period per @NatStatTrick. That’s a positive takeaway from the game, IMO. pic.twitter.com/2qhrRrbzOk— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) October 5, 2018
The Hurricanes pulled Mrazek with three minutes left, and scored to tie the game with a little under two remaining. Jordan Staal deflected a Dougie Hamilton shot past Greiss, and the Islanders challenged for goaltender interference. Despite a lengthy review, the call on the ice stood, officially tying the game.
However, in the last few seconds of regulation, Mathew Barzal was able to draw a penalty, setting the stage for overtime.
With a point secured, the Isles began overtime with a 4-on-3 advantage. Barzal made one of his classic pinpoint passes to Josh Bailey, who scored on the one-time shot to give the Islanders the OT win.
- There are still a looooooot of kinks to work out on this team. A lot of them are personnel driven, but some are still just bad habits from the past season.
- Barzal is still really good at hockey.
- I’m not sold on the Lee-Nelson-Eberle combination. I thought Nelson’s two way play was better this game, but I don’t think he can carry a line, even with Eberle on his wing. There are too many shooters and not enough creators.
- Thomas Greiss looked like the 2015-16 version of Greiss, not the 2017-18 one. If he plays like that all season, he can steal a lot of games.
Next, the New York Islanders head to the Barclays Center for their 2018-19 home opener against the Nashville Predators. The Predators just beat the other New York team 3-2 in regulation, so both teams will be coming into the game with two points to start their seasons. Should be a good game!