It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the New York Islanders managed to earn a point in Chicago against the Blackhawks despite not playing at their best. Robin Lehner was outstanding once again, boasting a .950 save percentage despite conceding two goals. Valtteri Filppula and Mathew Barzal had the Isles’ two tallies on solo efforts, and ultimately the shootout loss still keeps the Islanders three points ahead of the Capitals and in first place in the Metropolitan Division going into the All-Star Break.
Once again, the fourth line started out strong and set the tone early. That line generated a chance but Blackhawks goalie Cam Ward was up to the task. However, he would be thwarted by a Valtteri Filppula solo effort that made it 1-0 to the good guys. Filppula won the face off and then drove to the net, backhanding the puck past Ward.
The Barzal line had a strong shift, with Beauvillier having a pretty good chance to get out of his scoring slump but getting beat by Ward to keep it just a 1-0 game. Connor Murphy took a high-sticking penalty, sending the Islanders to the power play, but they were unable to convert on the man advantage.
The Blackhawks, however, would not struggle on their red-hot power play. The Hawks found themselves on a full two minute 5 on 3 power play after Cal Clutterbuck took a slashing penalty and Matt Martin took a roughing penalty all on the same shift. Dylan Strome would score on the two-man advantage, tying the game.
It would not stay tied for long, as Mathew Barzal was on a breakaway and beat Ward to give the Isles a 2-1 lead. Barzal nearly lost it as the puck started to roll on him, but he was still able to get enough on it to put it past Ward.
But once again, sloppy penalties would hurt the Islanders, as a Filppula high-sticking penalty led to a Jonathan Toews power play goal to tie the game late in the second.
It can’t be understated just how key Robin Lehner was this period and throughout the entire game, keeping the score tied with timely and sometimes excellent saves, ensuring the Isles would leave Chicago with at least a point.
Patrick Kane took a penalty for holding Valtteri Filppula, but once again the Isles failed to convert. Despite the poor effort in this game compared to recent ones, the Islanders were able to get the game to overtime.
The Islanders looked in control for the majority of a very exciting overtime period that featured a fantastic Nick Leddy backcheck on Patrick Kane. However, there were no goals scored, which brought us to a shootout. The Hawks sent out Toews and Kane as their first two shooters, who each scored, while Josh Bailey and Barzal for the Isles couldn’t get past Ward.
- As mentioned, Robin Lehner continues to be fantastic. What a great story, and hopefully he remains an Islander past this season.
- After taking two minor penalties in the same shift, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck were benched for an extended part of the period. Trotz is holding everyone accountable.
- Poor Anthony Beauvillier is extremely snakebitten. Hopefully he’ll take the break to get out of his own head and get back to his goalscoring ways.
Next, the New York Islanders are off until February 1st, when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum. However, Mat Barzal won’t be able to totally relax, as he’ll be heading to San Jose for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. Both the skills competition and the 3 on 3 tournament seem to suit him well, so he should have a good time. Enjoy the break knowing that your New York Islanders are in first place, everyone!