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Maple Leafs 3*, Islanders 0 (*EN): Everything but a goal tonight for the Isles

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They played a good game, but couldn’t solve an .883 goalie.

NHL: JAN 04 Islanders at Maple Leafs
In disbelief this didn’t cross the line.

The Islanders traveled to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada and their play didn’t disappoint. The only thing they couldn’t do tonight was score, as Michael Hutchinson, he of the below-.900 save percentage, shut them out, with a little help from his friends, the posts and some good fortune.

Overall, the Islanders played well, but they’re ice cold at the moment and when a couple of the top-six guys aren’t getting any breaks, their scoring woes become very apparent.

[NHL GC | NHL GS | NHL ES | Corsica | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period

It was a good road period for the Islanders to start the game, keeping the game at a grinding pace and not allowing the Maple Leafs to open the game up and create much. That being said, they didn’t create a ton of offense for themselves, but holding off the Leafs like that seemed to portend good things.

Second Period

The Islanders came out flying this period, getting the frame’s first seven shots and ultimately outshooting Toronto 16-7 through the middle twenty. But they found themselves behind 2-0 anyway.

Johnny Boychuk rang one off the post and Kasperi Kapanen and Pierre Engvall led a rush for the Leafs the other way, but the Islanders had numbers. That is, until Kapanen danced around Noah Dobson. Devon Toews slid to Kapanen, leaving Engvall wide-open for a one-timer.

Not long after, Auston Matthews deflected a shot from Mitch Marner at the point and it went right over Semyon Varlamov. Matthews is pretty good.

And Michael Hutchinson, who has struggled for most of the season, stood on his head tonight.

Third Period

Same story as last period, minus the Toronto goals. The Islanders controlled the play, from my eye, but just couldn’t put one over the goal line.

They pulled Varlamov with over two minutes left, but the Leafs regained possession of the puck quickly as the Islanders passed far too much, not having gotten a shot off. Zach Hyman deposited the puck into the open net.

Thoughts

  • I mean, what can you say? Tom Kuhnhackl drew the only penalty of the game and the puck sat on the goal line on that play. They hit three posts. They almost entirely contained the Maple Leafs’ potent offense, limiting them to 23 shots on goal, but a couple mistakes on one rush and a perfectly-tipped puck by an elite player, on a shot-pass from another elite player, were the only ones that got through.
  • I saw Barry Trotz’s post-game walk-off with Shannon Hogan, and he said he’ll take that game over and over again. They played their game, they’re just snakebitten right now. Would be nice if they were able to get a goal-scorer or a little more offense from somewhere. They just got shut out by a goalie who entered the night with a .883 save percentage.
  • Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle... I mean, man, they can’t buy a goal right now. I’ve seen some lamenting them and their contracts, but the truth is that they’re mostly playing well. They’re just not getting the breaks. Right now, no one on the Islanders is.

Further evidence it was a close game:

Up Next

The Islanders are back at the Coliseum on Monday night to host the Colorado Avalanche, who are making their New York swing, three games in four nights. It’ll be their second in three nights; the Islanders will also be on their second in three days and in the second game of a three-in-four stretch.