It’s been a tough go of it lately for the Islanders, who have played well overall but have watched their initially sky-high PDO come crashing back to Earth over the last handful of contests. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights are having an inverted experience, enjoying a much more positive regression after some awful luck to start the season.
Sloppy First Minute
20 seconds removed from the opening face-off, Casey Cizikas was whistled for high-sticking as the Golden Knights entered the offensive zone. It only took Vegas 15 seconds of power play time to get themselves on the board on a penalty kill that was downright ugly.
The Golden Knights set up a gorgeous power play with speed and passing skill and a snipe from Jonathan Marchessault to finish off the play. Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, making his second straight, was beaten on the short side despite getting his glove on it. It was a hard shot, but he probably wants that one back.
The Isles woke up after that weak start, and tied the score within the game’s first four minutes.
Mathew Barzal, who had one of his best games of the season, entered the zone with control and skated around until he found Johnny Boychuk at the top of the zone. Boychuk did the same, carrying the puck below the goal line before flipping it out to Anthony Beauvillier in front of the crease for the first New York tally of the game. It was Beauvillier’s second goal in as many games.
Barzal and Pelech Take the Lead
As the MSG+ broadcast pointed out, Barzal had been on the ice for quite some time when play went into the Islanders’ zone and Barzal, though gassed, wisely stayed on instead of changing and giving the Knights numbers. As a result, Vegas’ play was squashed and the Islanders started off on an odd-man rush.
Barzal carried the puck down the left wing and below the hashmarks, getting Marc-André Fleury to commit to him before dumping it back to Adam Pelech coming into the middle of the offensive zone. Pelech let fly a wrist shot that beat Fleury, who lunged in the wrong direction like a soccer goalkeeper jumping in the wrong direction when guessing which way the penalty kicker plans to shoot.
Another Golden Goal
Lehner didn’t appear to be as sharp as he did Monday night when the Penguins visited the Coliseum, and it was evident on the goal that tied the game for the Golden Knights.
“Wild Bill” William Karlsson cruised down the right wing and took a hard shot that must have fooled his fellow Swede. Lehner seemed to miss it entirely, and he wasn’t happy about it, understandably. Can’t stop them all, but it hurts to lose that way.
Shooting the Lights Out
The start of the third period was delayed 16 minutes because the lights in Barclays Center refused to come on and then took a little bit to reach full brilliancy when they did come on - it was like a third intermission right after the second one.
Who’s to say what role that played in the game’s outcome, but the Golden Knights wasted no time in taking the lead for good once the game finally did resume. A turnover in the defensive zone ended up on the stick of Vegas forward Ryan Carpenter. He sent it toward the net, where the rebound was smacked in succession by Oscar Lindberg and ultimately Tomas Nosek after some miscommunication between Lehner and Thomas Hickey. Nosek’s goal stood as the game-winner. It is the first time in three total meetings that the Golden Knights have beaten the Islanders.
They don’t play again until Saturday, back at the Coliseum against the Red Wings on Billy Joel Night. We’ll see then if the scrappy play from last Saturday is revisited, and if Josh Ho-Sang is finally allowed to play in a game. With the offensive slump they’ve been mired in, one might think his abilities might get him into some action. Then again...