Both the Islanders and Hurricanes came into tonight’s game desperate for two points. Carolina had lost three straight. The Islanders had only lost two in a row, but they were both truly demoralizing.
The ‘Canes got off to a quick start but the Islanders, who had played the night before, started to wake up after that. A goal from the captain tied the game and the goalies tonight sent the game all the way to an eight-round shootout.
It wound up a storybook-ending for Justin Williams, who celebrated his season debut with the shootout winner and got Carolina the extra point.
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Carolina started quickly, controlling most of the first five minutes and getting a goal out of it. After a flurry down low in front of Thomas Greiss, Mathew Barzal corralled the puck but tried to skate it out and got swarmed by Hurricanes, and he failed to get it out of the zone.
The ‘Canes cycled it around the Islanders’ zone and Andrei Svechnikov ripped a shot from the top of the face-off dot. It caught the meat of Noah Dobson’s stick, but was hard enough that it still went in on net like a knuckleball and past Greiss.
Svech strikes first! pic.twitter.com/SxPYybugqu— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 19, 2020
Scott Mayfield earned the Islanders a power play with a tenacious shift all over the offensive zone. But the power play only mustered two shots: a long point rip from Barzal and a one-on-one chance for Anthony Beauvillier. Beauvillier was tied up in the rebound attempt, which would’ve been a nice opportunity.
On the whole, it was an okay period for the Islanders. They didn’t get outplayed that much by the Hurricanes, but it seemed they were scrambling a little bit when the play was in their own end, and it was with some frequency.
The Islanders looked much better this period. They had the puck more often than not As was the case in the first period, they were trying to take too many shots from the perimeter and hope for tips, unable to penetrate through the collapsed Carolina defense.
Though they did not get a ton of zone time, the Hurricanes had a power play on a Dobson penalty a few chances that really could have or should have been goals, including Brock McGinn having a tap-in and pushing it diagonally across the crease and wide. The Islanders got a couple breaks there.
Around the midway point of the period, Josh Bailey went to the room and did not return for the game. He was announced as sick.
They got a power play opportunity when Jordan Staal was whistled for slashing Jordan Eberle—not the best call, but we’ll take it. This power play was much more dangerous than their first one, with Michael Dal Colle replacing Bailey out there. They had everything but the goal, but it fed the Islanders’ buzz.
Furthermore, they started getting in front of the net and it resulted in a goal in the final minute of the frame. They got the puck deep and forechecked against James Reimer, who came out to play the puck. They got possession of it in the corner and worked it out to Mayfield at the point. He blasted the puck toward the front of the net and Reimer made the save but left a juicy rebound. Casey Cizikas shot at it and Reimer tried to push it away but it came right to Anders Lee. Reimer was sprawled out, so Lee lifted it over him and tied the going into the third.
O Captain! Our Captain! pic.twitter.com/z1D6FQ8PdX— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 19, 2020
The Islanders carried the momentum from their late second period goal into the third, earning a power play for their efforts; Trevor van Riemsdyk went to the box for holding. This power play was more similar to the second than the first, but the Islanders didn’t beat Reimer.
They killed off a necessary Cizikas penalty taken during some really hairy moments in their own zone, but Greiss made a few highlight-reel saves both at five-on-five and on the kill. Beauvillier displayed some excellent individual effort on a particular kill shift where he dove to clear the puck.
Normally, two teams battling for playoff positioning would start playing a chip-and-chase game as the game wound down to secure at least a point. But both teams tonight came in on some bad runs and both looked like they wanted a regulation win. Barzal had a beautiful breakaway opportunity denied by Reimer; Joel Edmundson nearly ended it for the Hurricanes shortly after, but Greiss came up huge.
The Hurricanes controlled the play early, but didn’t get too many shots toward the net and the Islanders regained control. They had a chance or two, but neither team really had a lot of anything going on, save for a couple Carolina breakaways.
This one went eight rounds. Greiss gave up two goals on Carolina’s first three attempts, to Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen. But so did Reimer, to Barzal and Beauvillier. Both goalies saved each of the next four attempts, but Justin Williams scored in the eighth round. It was up to Lee to keep it going and he didn’t get much of a shot off. Williams got the winner in his return, because of course he did.
Hey hey, what do you say.— NHL (@NHL) January 20, 2020
Welcome back, @JustinWilliams! pic.twitter.com/JWfHq3mZ1w
Both Brock Nelson and Cizikas lost the puck without ever shooting it on their attempts, which is generally not great.
They looked pretty good tonight, but sadly only got a point. Really hobbling into the break here.
The Islanders have 25 goals in their last 10 games, and that includes an 8 goal outburst against Detroit.— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) January 20, 2020
They've allowed 29 in the same span, and that's how they end up with 3-5-2 over that time (and 1-3-2 in their last 6).
They haven't even played badly, but... you know.
- Scott Mayfield had himself an excellent, aggressive game. Not physically aggressive, but offensively. He drew a penalty and set up the Islanders only goal with his point blast.
- Michael Dal Colle had a couple hairy shifts, including the shift where Joel Edmundson nearly ended it, but he looked good in Josh Bailey’s stead on the power play and made a couple tenacious defensive plays.
- Speaking of Bailey, wonder if there’s a bug going around the room or something. Mathew Barzal, in particular, looked just a step slow tonight and had a few bad giveaways and failed clears.
- Leo Komarov looked pretty good tonight. He was a hound on loose pucks and had a two-on-zero with Casey Cizikas. Unfortunately, though, he still has hands of stone.
- The whole team was struggling to clear the zone at times, not completely clearing up the “soft” plays Barry Trotz talked about.
- Thomas Greiss wasn’t superb during the shootout, looking particularly rough on the winner, but he was during the game. He should get the next start on Tuesday, god-willing.
- James Reimer was good for the Hurricanes. I hate their black uniforms. They’re butt-ugly.
The Islanders have one more game before the much-needed (for them and us) break. They’ll visit Madison Square Garden for the second time in nine days, facing the Rangers for third time in the same span. Hopefully that one goes better than the last two did.