The New York Islanders finished up their four-game Western Conference road trip in Dallas, and played another great game away from home, earning their third win of the road trip. The win keeps them well in the playoff race, two points back from the Pittsburgh Penguins who have played an extra game. Goals from Casey Cizikas, Anders Lee, and an empty netter from Leo Komarov lead the Isles to victory as they head home for the holidays.
Devon Toews’ first NHL period was a positive one, as the 24 year old rookie seemed to earn Barry Trotz’ trust, registering just shy of 7 minutes of ice time in the opening 20 minutes. His smooth skating and decisiveness with the puck (especially while on the power play) are all encouraging for the highly touted defenseman.
Robin Lehner was called on early to make a few saves, and the Cizikas line had a notable shift against the Stars’ top line of Tyler Seguin-Jamie Benn-Alexander Radulov. Radulov was a notable name tonight, as he spent a big chunk of the game in the penalty box. The first of his penalties on the night was a tripping call on Anthony Beauvillier, drawing the Islanders their first power play of the game.
Though the power play had its moments, it still wasn’t as threatening as it could be, and Brock Nelson fumbled the puck twice, giving the puck away to the Stars. Shortly after the first Radulov penalty expired, Josh Ho-Sang drew a hooking call from Radulov, sending him to the box once again. Again, the Isles failed to convert.
Later in the period, Cal Clutterbuck and Martin Hanzal collided, injuring both players. Clutterbuck headed to the Islanders bench while avoiding putting weight on his left leg, and Hanzal took only one more shift before heading to the dressing room.
Scott Mayfield took a hooking penalty on none other than Alexander Radulov, giving the Stars their first power play, but the Isles were able to kill the penalty.
Cal Clutterbuck returned to the bench for the start of the second but ultimately left the game during the period.
The Stars struck first on a Tyler Pitlick goal, going the other way after some good offensive zone time by the Islanders. Beauvillier then had a solid opportunity to tie the game, but shot wide.
Radulov featured again in the penalty box, for his first bout of the night against Leo Komarov. That gave us two minutes of 4 on 4 play, though there were no goals during the penalties. Back at 5 on 5, Casey Cizikas tied the game on a solo effort where he brought the puck behind the net, shot a backhand that went into the air and then behind Anton Khudobin and into the net to tie the game.
Then, Komarov and Radulov would go at it again, giving us more 4 on 4 time, with no goals again.
At 1-1, the game seemed to settle a bit, until Radek Faksa took a slashing penalty that would give the Islanders a key power play. Jordan Eberle carried the puck toward the net, dishing it off to Mathew Barzal, who got the puck to Nick Leddy. Leddy’s shot was deflected by Anders Lee and hit the post, and appeared to then be pushed in past Khudobin by Eberle. Initially, the goal was credited to Eberle with assists from Leddy and Barzal, but Lee was later given credit for the goal to give the Islanders the 2-1 lead.
Leo Komarov scored on the empty net, and the Islanders finished their Western Conference road trip with a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars.
- Despite another power play goal, it still feels like they should be getting better looks on the power play. There’s enough talent there to make it work, it just feels like they’re being utilized wrong in their set up.
- Devon Toews looked extremely poised in his NHL debut, logging 18 minutes of ice time, including some power play time. He should be in the lineup every night, he’s beyond NHL ready.
- Casey Cizikas’ goal was his 9th of the season, tying his career single-season high from 2014-15. Cizikas has played extremely well this season, and when he’s been injured, his absence has made a big difference.
- Even if Josh Ho-Sang isn’t contributing offensively (and this wasn’t one of his best games), he still has a knack for drawing penalties that makes him a valuable player.
Next, the New York Islanders return to the Barclays Center to take on the Ottawa Senators. The Senators are at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, with a 15-18-4 record going into the Christmas break. A well-rested Isles team at home should be able to continue their winning ways.