This western Canada road trip has been hard to watch at times, both because of the late night games and because of the Islanders’ lackluster play, but tonight’s win against the Vancouver Canucks keeps the Islanders in a semi-comfortable lead at the top of the Metropolitan Division. Casey Cizikas’ 17th goal of the season was the game winner as Robin Lehner earned a well-deserved shutout, and Ryan Pulock, Anthony Beauvillier, and Cal Clutterbuck rounded out the scoring for a 4-0 win in Vancouver.
Casey Cizikas (who else?) opened the scoring for the Islanders, after local BC boy Devon Toews set up a Johnny Boychuk shot. Boychuk’s shot created a huge deflection, leaving Jacob Markstrom unaware of the puck’s whereabouts. Cizikas figured out where the puck landed first, and he put it past Markstrom to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.
Loui Eriksson took a penalty about six minutes in, but the only scoring chance of note was a shorthanded chance for Jay Beagle that went wide. Mathew Barzal had a chance as he tried to push the puck past Markstrom on a weird bouncing play, but it went well wide. At the other end of the ice, Robin Lehner had to be sharp, saving shots from Alex Biega and Antoine Roussel.
On a delayed penalty, the Islanders were able to get extended zone time for close to the only time that period, with the top 6 on 5 unit passing the puck around. Barzal got the puck to Ryan Pulock, who was in the Ovechkin spot, and Pulock scored, giving the Isles a 2-0 lead.
This period was more noticeably a tire fire for the Islanders, who were bad by every metric except goals in the period preceding this as well. The only two scoring opportunities for the Islanders were an attempt by Nelson that Markstrom turned away, and a shorthanded save on Valtteri Filppula. Lehner was the star of the second, with a stackpad save on Josh Leivo setting the tone of another strong outing.
The Canucks thought they scored on the power play after Brock Nelson was sent off for holding, but the puck hit the post and then was swept away by a combination of Scott Mayfield and Robin Lehner, maintaining the two goal lead. The Nelson penalty was in part caused by an atrocious shift by the Tom Kuhnhackl/Barzal/Leo Komarov line, which left Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk hemmed into their own end for over two minutes each.
The Isles survived a 5 on 3 after Mayfield put the puck over the glass, which is notably shorter in Vancouver than in other arenas. Filppula’s shorthanded chance happened during this penalty kill sequence. Barzal was penalized for high-sticking Elias Pettersson, but the Isles killed the penalty again.
The Islanders extended their lead on some pretty passing by the Anthony Beauvillier/Filppula/Josh Bailey line, with Beauvillier burying the puck at the end of the play.
Beauvillier nearly had another after Markstrom fumbled the puck minutes later, but it just missed him. The Isles closed the game out well, but still had nervy moments, especially with Anders Lee taking a crosschecking penalty late, giving the Canucks power play time and an opportunity to pull their goalie.
Lehner came up big again, denying chances from Pettersson and Troy Stetcher, and Cal Clutterbuck was able to nab the empty net goal, closing out a 4-0 Islanders win.
- Please let us never see Barzal with Kuhnhackl and Komarov ever again, thank you.
- The Isles underlying numbers were not good at all during this road trip, and hopefully a long home stand will help the team find their game again.
- Getting out of this western Canada trip with three points and a four point lead over the Capitals for first in the Metro is pretty good!
Next, the New York Islanders head back to the Coliseum to face the Calgary Flames, who dominated the Isles back at the Saddledome. Would be nice to flip the script this next time around.