Every bounce, comical misplay and confusing blown coverage went against the Red Wings, as it has all season, allowing the Isles to enjoy the comforting tonic of a 8-2 blowout win at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night.
The Isles opened scoring in the fourth minute, were up 3-0 by 8:00 mark, and never looked back. Jimmy Howard, the veteran who has struggled all season and was aiming to get his confidence back, was yanked from the game after the third one, even though the Wings’ perplexing play left him so out to dry that Wings coach Jeff Blashill called a timeout four minutes into the game.
I could be suppressing bad memories, but man...is this what it was like to follow the 2008-09 Islanders?
Thirteen different Islanders had points, yet no individual had more than two points.
First Period: Looks like this will be easy
The first costly and comical Wings defensive display came off a turnover at the blueline followed by a precision Mathew Barzal pass to Jordan Eberle, who made no mistake with a backhand move past Howard to open scoring.
BARZAL EBERLE GOALLLLLLL!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/NLWaWpZOZb— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 15, 2020
That’s four Wings in a very small space, none of them doing anything to affect matters. Yikes.
That was followed by a goal from Josh Bailey, and you can see from the coverage why the goals brought a timeout from Blashill just four minutes into the game:
HEYYYYYY JOSH BAILEY,— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 15, 2020
THANKS FOR SCOOORRING,
THAT GOAL! pic.twitter.com/hhX2kHk15d
But it didn’t help much.
Mike Green blew a tire with Anthony Beauvillier in hot pursuit on a puck retrieval behind the Wings net. Beauvillier grabbed the puck and made a series of smart moves to fake a pass to one side, then feed Brock Nelson on the other side. Nelson still needed a well-placed shot to beat Howard. Doesn’t seem fair that this chased Howard from the game:
The Wings got one back at 11:45 of the first on a Filip Hronek shot Thomas Greiss might like to have back. But there was not much fear of a deflating comeback, not against this team.
Indeed Anders Lee made it 4-1 and capped first-period scoring to give the Isles their first four-goal first period of the season. It was yet another snipe from the captain, a way he’s been scoring more and more lately to complement his normal net-front production. Having a brilliant pass form Barzal sure helps:
Toward the end of the first period, Brock Nelson was penalized after a hard numbers hit (uncalled) on Alex Biega, then a crosscheck to a tumbling Biega’s head when they came back together moments later.
While that wasn’t likely to get the Red Wings back in the game, you never know.
Second Period: Looks like this will still be easy
Instead, because everything is going wrong for the Red Wings, a pass to the point at the end of the ensuing power play bounced over the Wings stick...and glided right to Nelson for a breakaway as he came out of the box. He sprinted into a nice delayed backhand move through the legs to make it 5-1. The blowout was still on.
Mathew Barzal also had a goal called off after his shot appeared to dribble over the line on its edge and, indeed, the official call on the ice was a goal. Barzal was doubtful, and they checked on video review. It didn’t seem conclusive enough to overturn, but it was clear none of it really mattered. Still that would’ve been a controversial one if it affected the score.
Noah Dobson added another just 41 seconds later, his first NHL goal, on a simple lob with a little help from Biega:
WE'RE SO PROUD OF YOU NOAH!— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 15, 2020
Going back to Lee’s goal toward the end of the first period, it was the second time in the game the Islanders had scored three goals in just over a four-minute span.
Third Period: Eight is enough
For the seventh goal, Anthony Beauvillier broke a goal scoring slump with a nifty high-slot tip of a Ryan Pulock shot:
Then Leo Komarov, who hasn’t scored since way back into last season and generally hasn’t appeared apt to hit the broad side of a barn, finished scoring. It was the easiest of tap-ins, and another fortuitous bounce:
UNCLE LEO‼️— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 15, 2020
UNCLE LEO‼️ pic.twitter.com/Pi0aw8D1WT
The Wings salvaged one feel-good moment late, when Givani Smith scored his first NHL goal on a high deflection from the point.
The @NYIslanders beat the Red Wings, 8-2. It was the second time in team history that Isles scored as many as eight goals in a game with no player tallying more than two points (Jan. 3, 1981 vs. Hartford Whalers).— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) January 15, 2020
Debrief: That was crazy
Overall, this was a tough game to evaluate since it was out of hand from the get go, the Isles were playing a battered and deflated opponent, and they faced so little resistance in jumping out to a 3-0 lead.
But they never took their foot off the pedal, and they got the bounce-back they needed after Monday’s loss at the Garden. Now, hopefully, they’ll be feeling a little better going into the rematch with the Rangers on Thursday.
Otto Koivula played on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Komarov, with Casey Cizikas missing his second consecutive game. But Barry Trotz sounded hopeful Cizikas would be back Thursday vs. the Rangers at the Coliseum.
After that one, the Isles will host the Capitals on Saturday and then head to Carolina on Sunday as this five-in-seven stretch continues. Big week.