From the outset, it looked like the Islanders were finally starting to suffer from the exhaustion that was supposed to catch them on Tuesday night. Playing their third road game in four nights, the Islanders didn’t appear to be ready for the speed and skill of the Golden Knights and certainly didn’t play them as strongly as they had eight days ago in Brooklyn.
A Slow Start with a Couple Goals on the Side
The opening period was spent primarily in the Islanders defensive zone as the Golden Knights controlled play and didn’t allow New York to set up much of anything. However, Thomas Greiss stopped everything he saw and kept the score tied at 0-0 until two of the Isles’ most skilled players gave them a quick 2-0 lead to close out the frame.
With less than two minutes remaining, The Killer B’s lined up for an offensive zone faceoff, with Josh Bailey at the dot and Mathew Barzal on the far wing. Bailey won the faceoff and dished back to Barzal, who flicked a wrist shot past Marc-André Fleury as he curled at the top of the circle.
And with about 20 seconds left in the period, the Lee-Nelson-Eberle line dashed into the Vegas zone and Brock Nelson, the puck carrier, arched his stick again to surprise Fleury and beat him over top.
Letting Poor Play Get the Better of Them
A team like the Golden Knights doesn’t let slower teams catch up to them and doesn’t play down to their opponents if they’ve got the legs, and they did tonight.
Brandon Pirri, a guy who literally can only score goals and do absolutely nothing else, played in his first NHL game tonight to replace Max Pacioretty and, as per the rules or the script, scored his first goal of the season to bring Vegas within one. Greiss made the initial save, but Pirri recovered the rebound and pulled it around Greiss’ outstretched left pad.
Alex Tuch was credited with the tying goal in the second, although he was just the last Golden Knight to touch the puck before Ryan Pulock put it in. Fortunately, the Islanders coaching staff caught Tuch entering the zone offside and the goal was negated. Unfortunately, they did nothing to build off that break.
Quick Goals Are the Theme of the Night
The Knights once again started the period in third gear while the Islanders were stuck in neutral, and it inevitably caught up with the visitors about 6 minutes into the third.
As Vegas re-entered the zone, “Wild Bill” William Karlsson crossed the blue line and slipped a hard wrist shot from the top of the left circle through the legs of Scott Mayfield and just inside the far post past Greiss.
And then Paul Stastny, who has missed a lot of time with injury in his first season in the desert, got just his second goal of the season a little more than one minute later when Adam Pelech and Jordan Eberle miscommunated who was covering the primary assister, Reilly Smith. If I recall correctly, his first of the season was against the Islanders last week.
To seal the deal, Nate Schmidt added an empty-netter via Hail Mary.
A couple much-needed days off for the Islanders before their next game on Sunday night. They play the Stars at an 8:00 p.m. puck drop in Dallas to close out the road trip and head into the holiday break.