That makes six wins in nine games for the Islanders, an almost deceptively strong first month aided by this win streak and its OT wins. But the performance against the Coyotes was also one of the Islanders’ best of the season.
So, trends going upward on multiple fronts as they jumped to third place in the Metro.
It was a pretty even first period, with both teams mounting cases for control of play, and it finished at 1-1.
The Islanders got on the board first, and early, with Derick Brassard opening his Islanders goal account at 1:25 of Game 9. Brassard’s first goal in the blue and orange was, you know, a sniper’s classic: a point shot bounced in off his leg after he crashed the net.
Does anyone need a good tip? We've got one right here pic.twitter.com/3DJP0jUYFb— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 24, 2019
Thankfully that wasn’t Ryan Pulock on full blast, so Brassard survived the deflection.
The Isles had a chance to double the lead when Oliver Wahlstrom sent Cole Bardreau in for a sweet opportunity that he nearly converted in front of family who arrived for his 2nd NHL game:
But instead of his first point, Wahlstrom picked up his first penalty minutes with a tripping minor at 7:51. The Islanders killed that one, but then Michael Grabner did his thing, pouncing on a failed Josh Bailey entry in the neutral zone.
Off to the races for Grabner, who took the time his speed afforded him and equalized with a shot over Semyon Varlamov’s gloveside shoulder. That made it 1-1 at 10:20, a score that held until deep into the second period.
Darcy Kuemper’s glove was tested here and there, and he aced the test while frustrating Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal on separate occasions. (Later on, in the third, Cal Clutterbuck would join the ranks of those robbed by Kuemper’s leather.)
The Islanders got their first power play in over two games when Phil Kessel was sent off...but a Barzal slash negated it 40 seconds later.
Entertainment-wise, this period had much less to show for it, though the Islanders picked up with some good pressure and passing work late in the period. Josh Bailey dropped to his knee in the slot to finish an exquisite look off and pass from Nick Leddy, who snuck into the left wing faceoff circle to receive a seam pass from Brock Nelson.
Bailey’s fourth of the season — tying him with Brock Nelson and Barzal for the team lead — gave the Isles a 2-1 lead with six minutes to go in the second period, and a chance to play Trotzian Lockdown entering the third.
Even period but the Isles have the timely goal. Pretty much their MO.— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) October 25, 2019
Through 2 5v5 Score Adjusted via NST
Isles 50.74% Attempts
Isles 62.43% High Danger (8.54 - 5.14)
Isles 47.76% Expected Goals (1.14 - 1.25) pic.twitter.com/DjjYExVuIK
The Islanders mostly managed that throughout the period, frustrating the Coyotes and getting refreshing breathing room from an Anders Lee insurance goal with 12 minutes to go.
Nice feed by Bailey from the corner, great concentration by Lee to corral and deposit it, with Barzal rushing in as a distracting alternate option:
Anders doing Anders things?— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 25, 2019
We're here for it! pic.twitter.com/SfBslJvuT5
Barzal won’t get an assist but he was just flying around the zone like a moon around a planet whole shift— Michael Leboff (@TheBigLeebowski) October 25, 2019
The Islanders’ strange lack of penalties drawn this season continued, with some glaring oversights that make you wonder if there is more than random bad luck going on. Is the Islanders’ low-event, boring kind of play making officials overlook obvious calls or undercompensate for things that are, well, textbook penalties?
Pelech tripped behind AZ net, ref Corey Syvret stares right at it, no call.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 25, 2019
How was cross checking Brassard in the face not a penalty?— jenny berman (@barzalline) October 25, 2019
Anyway, Lee’s goal proved to be significant insurance, as the Coyotes got one back about a minute after pulling Kuemper for a sixth attacker. Brock Nelson had one missed crack at the empty net before Conor Garland brought the Coyotes back to 3-2 with 1:05 left to go.
Thankfully, Scott Mayfield finished things with 12 seconds remaining, empty-netting his first goal on the season. That made for a nice cap to a deserved win.
This was the first part of a busy weekend for the Islanders, who are in Ottawa tomorrow night and back at the Coliseum to face the Flyers on Sunday.