At least this performance was more like the good Islanders for more than 20 minutes.
After going down 2-0, making it eight straight unanswered goals, you’d be forgiven for thinking the game was over. The Isles didn’t have much fight in them in the first period, putting up just 1 shot in the first 10 minutes of the game. But after Trotz hit the line blender, the team found another gear and tied it up in the second. They played a strong third period despite not scoring, and it seemed like the Isles had the momentum going into 3v3 overtime. It wasn’t meant to be though, as Scott Laughton continued the streak of Flyers OT wins vs the Isles.
At least there really is something to build on here!
The Flyers took an early lead off a Jakub Voracek goal after Cal Clutterbuck turned the puck over in the neutral zone and then the Isles defense broke down to let the Flyers pass the puck around pretty easily for a goal that Semyon Varlamov really didn’t have much chance to save.
Following the goal, Mat Barzal took a high sticking penalty, moving him into the team lead in penalty minutes (!!) though part of that is due to his 10 minute misconduct from last game vs. the Capitals. The penalty kill did their job, though, and made sure the game stayed 1-0.
However, the Isles really couldn’t get much offense going in this period until after Kevin Hayes scored to make it 2-0 off a similar play that led to the Voracek goal. Once down by two and with the help of a power play, the Isles were able to tie the Flyers up on shots by the end of period, 6-6, after going 10 minutes with just one shot on goal.
The Islanders came out with two line switches - Josh Bailey was moved to play with Lee and Barzal, and Jordan Eberle was moved to play with Nelson and Komarov.
The Islanders went on the power play again after Joel Farabee hit Oliver Wahlstrom up high, but once again the Isles came up short on the man advantage.
Mixing the lines seemed to pay off at even strength, though, as Eberle scored to cut the Flyers’ lead in half. Adam Pelech skated the puck behind the net and found Eberle open in front, who one timed it past Carter Hart.
Pelech ➡️ Eberle ➡️ GOAL pic.twitter.com/3d8VCrP7m1— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 31, 2021
Wahlstrom went to the Isles locker room after the hit, but returned shortly after and seemed to be fine.
A few minutes later, Scott Mayfield scored his first of the season (and first regular season goal in 33 games) to tie the game at 2 each. Barzal and Leddy passed it around the offensive zone and Leddy found Mayfield wide open for the shot.
Let it rip, Mayfield! pic.twitter.com/zlcoXmBrtt— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 31, 2021
The Islanders went on the power play again when Nicolas Aube-Kubel was called for holding, but they couldn’t convert.
Josh Bailey took a shot late in the third period that forced Hart to leave a big rebound that Anders Lee dived to reach, causing him to collide head first into Hart and head to the room shortly before time expired. He returned for the third period, but it was a scary moment off a weird collision.
Less than a minute into the first, Mat Barzal turned on the jets as he had a breakaway opportunity, and Claude Giroux slashed him on the leg (though called as a tripping penalty), causing Barzal to fall and slide his way down the ice, earning a power play for the Isles. The Islanders once again didn’t score, but kept the pressure on, outshooting the Flyers 11-4.
Ryan Pulock broke up the best chance of the period for the Flyers, getting in the way of a potential 4 on 2, and helping preserve the tie to secure a point for the Isles and get to overtime.
Varlamov made a big save on Scott Laughton early, but despite having most of the puck possession, the Isles never really looked dangerous, and it was eventually Laughton who scored the game winner, outmaneuvering Dobson and Varlamov to score the game winner.
Hey, at least it’s a point.
- The Isles didn’t come out strong tonight, but they looked more themselves in the second and third period. A lot of that was due to the third line not being a massive black hole - both Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows look like they belong, and hopefully they’ll stay in the lineup. Wahlstrom brought some creativity and Bellows is willing to use his shot to get pucks to the net, and those are both skills the Islanders desperately need.
- The fourth line still hasn’t had a good game yet, though, and that’s definitely a worry given the team’s commitment to them.
- I’ve always been a fan of Lee-Barzal-Bailey as a line, so we’ll see how long the new combinations last.
Next, see you back here tomorrow for the second half of the back to back against the Flyers at 7pm.