After a disappointing performance in Chicago, the New York Islanders got back on track with a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild. Ryan Donato scored first for the Wild, but three third period goals by Ryan Pulock, Matt Martin, and Tom Kuhnhackl would turn a tight defensive game into a decisive win for the Islanders.
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The Isles came out strong to start the first, and Mathew Barzal attempted something of a lacrosse goal, but the puck got stuck on the top of the net. Both Scott Mayfield and Ryan Hartman were sent to the box for holding, leading to a four on four after momentum had started to shift in Minnesota’s favor. Joel Eriksson-Ek nearly had a great goalscoring opportunity when Ryan Pulock turned the puck over trying to thread a perfect pass rather than clearing (a theme for the Isles in the defensive zone earlier in the game.)
One of the better opportunities for the Islanders ended up backfiring, as Brock Nelson got the puck to Anthony Beauvillier who couldn’t get a great shot off. He tried to pick up the rebound but ran out of room and sent the puck down into the Isles’ zone. However, this led to the Isles getting stuck in their own zone, and led to Ryan Donato scoring after the Wild got some traffic in front of the net and the puck was able to just squeak through past Semyon Varlamov.
The Islanders again found themselves on the penalty kill when Anders Lee took a penalty and the Isles spent the entire two minutes in their own zone, but did not concede a goal. Jordan Greenway went to the box for tripping Tom Kuhnhackl and the Islanders would go on a power play through the second.
The Isles PP didn’t get much done, though it was overall a strong defensive period for the Isles, who only allowed 5 shots on goal from Minnesota. Ross Johnston and Carson Soucy had a few words after Soucy crosschecked Mat Barzal.
The Wild took a penalty for too many men, but the power play was cut short when Barzal was sent to the box for holding. The Wild hit the post on the power play as the period expired.
Josh Bailey turned over the puck, leading to a Kevin Fiala breakaway, but he shot it high. Dubnyk made a few good saves but Ryan Pulock was able to score through traffic to tie the game.
Just a minute and a half later, Nick Leddy would send a puck up to Leo Komarov, who raced to get to it first and passed the puck cross-ice to Matt Martin, who scored to give the Islanders the lead.
Then, some drama, as Zach Parise ran into Varlamov, and Mayfield pushed Staal into him as well. Mayfield went after Staal, resulting in a two minute roughing minor for him, but no goaltender interference call for Parise, despite it seeming pretty obvious.
The Islanders kill the penalty, but Luke Kunin had a good chance after it expired that Varlamov was able to save. Scott Mayfield was involved in some fighting again after hitting Ryan Hartman late, drawing the attention of Marcus Foligno. None of the players involved received penalties.
Then, Tom Kuhnhackl sealed the game when he scored after a Brock Nelson faceoff win, shooting the puck past Dubnyk and giving the Isles a 3-1 lead.
Minnesota pulled their goalie, but were unable to get the two goals they needed, and the Islanders were back to their winning ways with a much needed regulation win.
Next, the Isles head to Washington to play the Capitals in an afternoon game on New Years’ Eve. The Capitals lost to the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday, but have boasted the best record in the Metro division all season. It’ll be a true test of where the Islanders are at against Trotz’ former team.