Quinn Hughes scored the overtime game winner, his second goal of the game, to give the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders in Brooklyn. The Islanders walk away from their first game after the All-Star break feeling a little frustrated, but happy to have salvaged a point thanks to Brock Nelson’s equalizer with 26 seconds left in regulation.
Thomas Greiss, who started consecutive games before the break, also got the start today and was generally solid, though he likely wants the OT winner back. It came on an outside shot from Hughes, though the rookie phenom did well to set up a screen — moving in the other direction — and unleash a shot when Greiss wasn’t expecting it.
The Islanders are in a tight playoff fight and face a very busy schedule for their final 32 games, so getting a point after being behind 3-1 will have to stand as decent consolation.
First Period: Welcome back
Coming off a 10-day layoff, a goal conceded just 2:09 into the period might raise alarms about preparation. But JT Miller’s opening goal came off a tough break, as Derick Brassard broke his stick on a defensive zone faceoff, and though Tom Kuhnhackl handed the center his, it still created a 5-on-4.5 situation that the Canucks executed well. A shot from high hit the post, and the Canucks won the scramble for the rebound to lead 1-0.
That was the Canucks’ only shot for the opening five minutes of the game though, and the Islanders soon equalized. Josh Bailey made a nice pullup on his zone entry and then found MIchael Dal Colle breaking to the net for the redirect to tie it. That’s just Dal Colle’s third goal of the season.
The Isles couldn’t add to that on a power play they received 30 seconds later, drawn by a good rush from Brassard’s line.
Jacob Markstrom, who likes to play the puck but does not always do so with sure hands, gave the Islanders a few opportunities to pounce on near-gaffes, but nothing resulted. Thomas Greiss only faced five shots in the period.
Second Period: Frustration
The Islanders had a second power play early in the middle period, and though it was slot to get going they eventually had several good looks. With the extra man the Isles generally moved the puck well, but the Canucks were energetic and diligent in positioning to block shots and disrupt passes.
The failure to convert cost the Islanders, because the Canucks scored twice in the middle of the period.
2-1: The go-ahead goal victimized the Brassard line, though this one again involved some luck as a shot from the left wing boards by Hughes hit two skates to change directions and dribble over the line behind Greiss.
3-1 That same line (Brassard, Kuhnhackle, Dal Colle) was caught tired and coasting in their own zone, which allowed the Canucks to continue pressure with fresh legs, and Tim Shaller was allowed to walk into the slot, uncovered by two Islanders forwards, to backhand a fat rebound past Greiss.
It was a frustrating turn after the Islanders had a promising first period coming out of the break.
Jordan Eberle got one back late in the second period, with a pretty combination play leading to a nice setup from Anthony Beauvillier.
The Islanders likely felt they were back on track after that, and enjoying a good push when...Adam Gaudette tripped Mathew Barzal, Barzal took a stride to reach for the puck before going down (and then getting right back up to retain the puck), and the officials did nothing...until they decided to call Barzal for diving and Gaudette for tripping.
Unreal. Barry Trotz, who rarely barks at the refs, was not happy. Both he and Anders Lee were still discussing things with officials as they left the ice for intermission.
Third Period: If on the 16th you don’t succeed...
The Canucks played some downright Trotzian hockey to protect a one-goal road lead throughout the third. Yes, the Islanders got shots (17-5 on the period) and yes, Markstrom was forced to make saves, but many were one-and-done as the Canucks largely kept them to the outside or at least without a rebound threat.
But the Islanders broke through on that 17th shot. Call it some repaid luck from the Hughes goal. After working the puck well with Greiss pulled for a sixth attacker, Ryan Pulock’s shot was deflected in the high slot...and right to the back door for Brock Nelson to redirect in. It was fortunate, but also a great, fast reaction by Nelson to put the tying goal home.
The Islanders didn’t generate any chances in OT before Hughes did this, announcing to the Metro area that there’s the other Hughes is presently the one to watch.
Quinn Hughes with the Saturday afternoon OT winner! pic.twitter.com/VWctBqlL9i— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 1, 2020
“I liked our game, there was a lot to like. Vancouver’s a tough team,” Trotz said. “We were resilient, it’s a big point for us. [The Canucks] didn’t get many chances... so coming out of the break against a team like that, I thought it was pretty good.”
On the Barzal embellishment call:
“I thought it was...it was a common sense call, [Barzal] was on one foot, on his toe, the stick is driven under his skate, he has the puck, there’s no reason to embellish. The refs have a tough job, I praise them all the time, I’d be a terrible ref, I just thought it was a common sense call. Mathew had a really strong game for us and deserved better.”
Trotz then acknowledged the ref who made the call is young — seventh NHL game apparently — and was “probably rattled. He called us the Rangers, and we’re not. We’re the New York Islanders.”
That daunting busy schedule ultimately begins, when the Dallas Stars come to town. After this weekend, the Isles do not have consecutive days between games for the rest of the month.