After beating two difficult opponents in a back-to-back set to extend their winning streak to nine games, the New York Islanders suffered no letdown against one of the league’s worst teams in their first Brooklyn home game of the season.
Yes, the Islanders were a little shaky in the defensive zone early on; and yes, they had a miscue on a tepid power play that allowed the Ottawa Senators to open scoring with a Jean-Gabriel Pageau shorthander.
But Cal Clutterbuck equalized 39 seconds later, and the Islanders never looked back on their way to a 4-1 win.
Cole Bardreau’s penalty shot goal — a fine way to open his NHL scoring account at age 26 — proved to be the winner, while Thomas Greiss’ 27 saves provided the baseline for the team’s longest win streak since the franchise record 15 in a row in 1982.
First Period: Oops, but we can fix that
As noted, it was a little shaky at first, and the Islanders wasted an early power play in the worst way.
A miscommunication between Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson behind the Islanders net freed up Vladislav Namestnikov to feed Pageau from behind the net to give the Senators a 1-0 lead.
But Clutterbuck, who also would hit the post on a rush after a great setup from Devon Toews, won a scramble in front of Craig Anderson to lift an equalizer upstairs at 8:23 of the first period.
The period finished still tied at 1-1, but the Islanders controlled play throughout the second half of the period and the tone appeared to be set: Only some flukes or bad luck would stand in the way of a streak extender on this night.
Second Period: Bardreau’s big moment
That said, it was still 1-1 as the clock passed 15 minutes into the second period.
But then Bardreau, who’d already had another steady night of cycling with Ross Johnston and Oliver Wahlstrom, made another one of his smart anticipation plays in the neutral zone to intercept a pass with his body and settle the puck for a breakaway. Mark Borowiecki pulled Bardreau down, and the 26-year-old rookie had a moment to ponder how he could make his first NHL goal an especially memorable one.
Happy rookie, happy bench. And history made, as just the 7th NHLer to score his first on a penalty shot.
Bardreau has had himself some breakaways already in his seven games up with the club, and Cal Clutterbuck said in the postgame that he’d Bardreau about how this conversion raises his breakaway success rate to 5 percent.
Maybe he was just waiting to make this one count. After all, his win percentage as an Islander is 1.000.
Cole Bardreau said he thought he was going to give himself a heart attack on his penalty-shot celebration because he tensed up so much. Celebration for first NHL was years in the making, through many hardships. Figures he's going to get some grief from teammates about the celly.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) November 6, 2019
Asked Cole Bardreau who he's calling first.— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) November 6, 2019
"Mom. Definitely Mom." #Isles
Third Period: Party at the Barc
Again, the game was hardly over at 2-1, but you had that feeling. The crowd was in a singing mood, and then in a 40-second span at the midway point, Casey Cizikas and Josh Bailey gave them plenty of cause to sing.
First, at 10:00, Casey Cizikas converted a beautiful feed from Clutterbuck, who received the first star, to provide a shorthanded insurance goal.
we scored a SHOOORRRTTTY! pic.twitter.com/1EhEMnjv83— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 6, 2019
Then 40 seconds later, Bailey brought out the “Heeeeeeeey, Josh Bailey” tune when he deflected a Noah Dobson shot over Anderson’s shoulder to make it 4-1. It was early on a delayed penalty after the Senators mauled Mathew Barzal in the corner.
Speaking of the dark arts, with 1:49 remaining Ross Johnston got a couple of solid retaliatory punches in on Brady Tkachuk’s head, a bit of “hey there, we remember” payback after Tkachuk initiated a fight against a gloved Casey Cizikas during their last meeting.
While that could have theoretically jeopardized things, or at least removed Bardreau’s goal as the winner of record, the Isles convincingly killed off the power play with Johnson tossed, a double-minor roughing and 10-minute misconduct for his troubles.
It was the right time for a revenge penalty against a team that took liberties during the last meeting.
The Islanders injury list remains lengthy, but they are getting balanced scoring with Jordan Eberle out, and names like Leo Komarov (illness, and neck), Matt Martin, Tom Kuhnhackl and Andrew Ladd have made way for players like Bardreau, Wahlstrom and Johnston who are providing similar service or better.
Pretty Charts and Things
Obviously everything is working out lately for the Islanders to go on this 10-game run, but that injury replacement depth has sure helped, along with the steady goaltending tandem and increasingly consistent four-line effort.
#Isles win their 10th game in a row, and continue to trend up with each win. Took 59% of the shot & expected goal share (at 5v5, using score/venue adjusted data from @NatStatTrick) pic.twitter.com/zlDWdZjA35— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) November 6, 2019
Next on the schedule: Same place, Thursday night with the Penguins in town.
As Steve noted, that one could feature fireworks, with the Penguins facing the team that swept them out last spring.
They’ll be so pleased to see Clutterbuck’s face again.