The big discussion was whether or not the Islanders would show signs of “Coliseum Hangover.” In the past, the Isles have shown signs of letdown after emotional games, notably after playing the Rangers in a close and/or bruising contest. But Barry Trotz’s Islanders don’t seem to suffer in these situations.
Saturday’s match-up with the Columbus had to have been absolutely exhausting mentally and physically, but in good ways. Between the emotion from the Coliseum return and then keeping pace against a big, fast, and skilled Blue Jackets team, a weak start wouldn’t have been too surprising against a big, fast, and skilled Jets team. But that wasn’t the case tonight. Unfortunately, the result didn’t favor their efforts.
Not Much Doing in Period One, and That’s Okay
Winnipeg’s offense hasn’t been quite so prolific this season, but the talent is still there to wreak havoc, with young goal-scoring wizard Patrik Laine leading the way. But it was the Islanders who had the better of the few chances to be had. On top of that, they conceded only three shots on goal, the first one a floater from the side wall about halfway through the period.
Okay, That Was a Little Less Boring
The Islanders continued to hold a slight advantage through the second period, but we got to see some flashes of the Jets’ firepower. Toward the end of the frame, Thomas Greiss robbed Kyle Connor, who had an open net, by getting shoulder on the shot and then gloving the rebound. For contrast, Jordan Eberle was robbed by Connor Hellebuyck, who sprawled out to deny Eberle’s chance as he fell.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders recorded nine high-danger scoring chances in the second period. I don’t think I saw nine, myself, but I’m often wrong.
Finally, Someone Breaks Through
Anders Lee gave the Islanders the first lead of the game from his office. Johnny Boychuk sent a slap shot from the blue line toward the front of the net that deflected off Brock Nelson and then Lee. The puck landed at the captain’s skates and he whipped it around Hellebuyck to get the Islanders on the board first.
But, Mathew Barzal took a blatant holding-the-stick penalty in front of the ref in the offensive zone and sent the Jets back to the power play. A bad clearing attempt forced a tired unit to stay out longer than they should have, and Winnipeg worked the puck around to Jacob Trouba at the top of the key. His blast tied the game.
And only 22 seconds later, the Jets rushed back into the offensive zone, and their fourth line flicked a shot at Greiss that bounced right out to Adam Lowry, who didn’t miss the rebound chance. The Isles now trailed 2-1.
The Islanders tried their darnedest to even the score, but they couldn’t solve Hellebuyck, and the Jets added an empty-netter to steal the game away in regulation.
The next game for these fellas is on Thursday night when they pay a visit to Pittsburgh and the Penguins. It’s part of a two-game road trip; they’ll be in Detroit on Saturday night to play Frans Nielsen and the Red Wings. Nielsen, for what it’s worth, had a hat trick tonight.