Oliver Wahlstrom was recalled from Bridgeport this morning as Casey Cizikas went on IR, and he made his debut this afternoon with the defending champs in town. It was Thomas Greiss vs. Jordan Binnington between the pipes. It was, for the most part, a snoozer. Until it very much was not!
First Period: Down a goal but not bad at all
The Blues worked the puck around after Michael Dal Colle had the puck stolen off his stick in the defensive zone. Justin Faulk pushed it down to Brayden Schenn inside the right circle. Schenn threw the puck toward the middle, looking for Vladimir Tarasenko battling with Anthony Beauvillier, but the puck bounced off Beauvillier and behind Greiss.
Other than that, though, the Islanders appeared to have a decent period by my eye. They had a couple decent chances and gave up a couple chances, as well, but much like their first period Saturday night against the Panthers, it was a better start than what they displayed in their first four games. Wahlstrom didn’t look timid to start, throwing three hits, getting a high-danger zone shot and just missing the net on another one later in the period, and earning some power play time with the “second” unit.
Second Period: That was not so good, at all, but didn’t give one up!
In the first minute of the period, Dal Colle rang a shot that Binnington had no knowledge of off the crossbar and then some tic-tac-toe passing on the top line would have led to a goal had Mat Barzal not whiffed in tight to Binnington. With about 7:00 left in the period, Wahlstrom grabbed a puck on the right wall and carried through two St. Louis defenders and in on Binnington, getting the puck past the netminder and through the crease but sliding it just wide.
Other than that, though, the second period was all Blues. The Islanders were routinely trapped in their own end. That being said, I can’t recall too many seriously threatening chances that St. Louis had, other than toward the end of the period when Johnny Boychuk lost his stick and the Islanders were trapped for well over a minute. They just mostly controlled the rubber and prevented the Islanders from getting anything going.
Third Period: Not great at first, BUT THEN...
The Islanders had some good jump to their play to start the third period, and it carried a lot further than the “jump” early in the second. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t result in too many actual shots toward the net.
Then, Derick Brassard was whistled for hooking Oskar Sundqvist, and while the refs are always going to call a stick up in the hands, Sundqvist certainly helped it along. On the ensuing power play, the Islanders were unable to clear and Tarasenko had plenty of room to move in and snipe past Greiss for his first of the season. Given the team’s glaring lack of offense, that definitely felt like the game.
HOWEVER, with five and a half to go, Dal Colle stumbled over the blue line but maintained control of the puck and found Brock Nelson slipping to the right faceoff circle. Nelson snapped a one-timer on the short side of Binnington to break up the shutout bid and keep things interesting.
Greiss was out of the net for the extra attacker and just when it seemed like all hope was officially lost, Boychuk checked his man at the blue line to keep the puck in and then dished to Barzal, who flicked a deflected puck past Binnington to send this damn thing to OT. I fist-pumped obnoxiously in the library.
Overtime: Wait how did we get here? And we won?!?!
The Isles were riding high after their late goal to end regulation and the building was abuzz, and they rode it to victory thanks to Barzal’s handiwork again.
Barzal, one of the better 3v3 players in the game, carried behind the net and fed Devon Toews cutting in, who beat Binnington just over a minute into overtime.
Thoughts and Such
- Wahlstrom looked like he belonged, like he was playing to stay up. He was all over the ice, using his body and actually shooting the puck, qualities that will likely endear himself to Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello over time. He wasn’t perfect—he was one of the guys trapped in the Isles’ zone for over two minutes in the second and, in an attempt to shift momentum in the second, he blew a potential four-on-two opportunity by losing the puck at the blueline and going offsides—but he looked good in his debut. Not sure if he’ll be allowed to stick just yet, but I would guess he’s a regular by the end of the season.
- Today was Scott Mayfield’s 27th birthday, and he got to play against the team he rooted for growing up (probably, he’s from St. Louis is the point) and he had a pretty good showing today. It was a nice way to celebrate his birthday, especially since he looked a little shaky in the first five games of the season. He did get called for slashing in the third, but it was Sammy Blais that hit him, and there was no flailing stick as a result, AND the ref that made the call was right there, so I’d love to know what he was looking at.
- The Islanders have only scored more than two goals in a game twice thus far (no, the shootout “third goal” against Florida does not count). Whatever opinion you have of Lou and Trotz, that’s not good enough. Lou said he cares about goal differential above all else, but you still need to score goals in order to have a positive goal differential. It doesn’t matter how well you defend, you can’t stop everything. So it would definitely be nice to have a couple weapons to make up for that. That being said, it is extremely nice to watch the weapons we do currently have come together. I also wrote most of this thought before the Islanders even scored one goal and I’m NOT taking it back now!!!
- I love stealing games like that. More of that when they’re losing, please!
Dan’s tweet about sums it up:
And just like Christopher Columbus, the Islanders show up late, wreck shit and take something that honestly didn’t belong to them.— Culture of Losing (Out On Free Agents) (@cultureoflosing) October 14, 2019
The Islanders hit the road for two games this weekend: Thursday night in Winnipeg (the season series with the Jets ends early this year) at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday night against the Blue Jackets in Columbus at 7:00 p.m.