The Islanders have played two must-win games against weak competition at home, and they’ve won both of them in fairly solid wins. This one against the Sharks was more of a return to form, especially for struggling captain Anders Lee, who scored twice and passed up a hat trick to give Josh Bailey an empty net goal. The Isles really only had one shaky moment all game, when Varlamov just straight up mistracked the puck to let the Sharks score an easy goal to tie the game 1-1. The two points put the Isles two points ahead of the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets, and secure a playoff spot heading into the trade deadline.
About 6 minutes in, Mat Barzal brought the puck into the Sharks zone and made a great pass to Anders Lee, who shot the puck in off the post and past Martin Jones.
Kieffer Bellows almost made it 2-0 shortly after, when Jones was out of his net after a weird puck bounce and Bellows had an empty net to shoot at. He was on his backhand, unfortunately, and shot it wide, though he didn’t recognize that he probably had some more time to get it forehand.
Dylan Gambrell tied the game for the Sharks on a weird goal, where it seemed like Semyon Varlamov just completely missed the puck. Varlamov had a shaky first period, where every shot looked like it left a juicy rebound, but the Isles defense was able to ensure nothing went in.
Stefan Noesen took a tripping penalty and the Isles went to the power play, though it continued its run of futility and never looked dangerous.
Under two minutes into the second, Barzal got a pass from Devon Toews in the neutral zone, skated the puck all the way in, and played a great pass to Lee, who scored top corner on Jones.
Andy Greene had a slightly scary moment as he took a puck to the face, but he was ultimately fine and returned to the game shortly after.
Bellows took a great shot that hit the post and almost created a rebound for Josh Bailey.
Then, late in the second, Devon Toews scored a big goal to put the Islanders up 3-1. Brock Nelson took the puck from Barclay Goodrow behind the net and passed it off to Toews, who scored it on a nice wrist shot for his sixth of the season.
In the third period, the Isles got two power plays, but the PP continued to be lackluster, with only the last one really having any bite.
Anders Lee then had the opportunity for his first ever hat trick in the NHL, but with a weird angle shot, he opted to pass to a wide open Josh Bailey instead, settling for a three point night instead of a three goal one as the Islanders won, 4-1.
First thing up next is the trade deadline, as Lou Lamoriello owes it to this team to bring in some reinforcements at forward. Then, the Isles’ first game after the deadline will be against the recently surging New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum. Both these teams could look fairly different before that game.