The Islanders were without their captain in Chicago Tuesday night, but their goalie brought his A game. Against a winless Blackhawks team, that was enough for the Isles to get their first win of the season and slowly build back some of their mojo.
It wasn’t all pretty but it was a nice final score, and the Isles got to practice the Trotz Tourniquet once they built the lead. That will come in handy should they, you know, get more leads in the future.
About last night...:
- There was no doubt by midway through the third period, but a brilliant night from Ilya Sorokin (and two really nice Oliver Wahlstrom snipes) made it possible. [Newsday | Isles rapid recap | AP | NHL | Isles 3 Takeaways]
- Things looked — continually — bleak after the first period. Saw some D pair shuffles, too. [LHH]
- “Jeremy Colliton started the game by getting booed and ended the game by ... getting booed.” [Second CIty Hockey]
- The Blackhawks played quite well in many ways, but things fell apart. [NBC]
In answering media questions before the game, Barry Trotz said Ilya Sorokin had overall been fine but that they’d need more big saves from him. I doubt he wanted his team to play so poorly in the first that they forced Sorokin to do that or else start 0-3, but that’s what happened. He had 18 saves in the first period alone, 39 after 60 minutes.
It was a big night for Sorokin, who was really strong throughout and came under a minute shy of a shutout. (If you were watching on ESPN, do not be mislead: That was not a coach’s challenge but a league-initiated review coming in the final minute of regulation. That said, would’ve been a worthy challenge if they had the option.)
Barry Trotz on Ilya Sorokin: "I really felt bad for him. I wanted him to get the shutout. He deserved the shutout. But we failed him in the last few seconds." #Isles— Joe Pantorno (@JoePantorno) October 20, 2021
More from Trotz
Barry Trotz said Kieffer Bellows was fine — the moving lines around was an attempt to wake some guys up — and praised Wahlstrom’s positioning and decisions, and of course Sorokin’s timely and big saves:
"We had some urgency. We were sitting here with no points and we're still on the road trip for the next month. We knew we had to get something going."— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 20, 2021
Barry Trotz ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/qHVnnrL2ap
Anders Lee Out Sick
The Isles captain was a fairly late scratch — you know that Chicago cuisine — which gave Kieffer Bellows his first game of the season. Bellows had a rough start, not really in sync on the Barzal line and getting moved around a bit. But I thought he got better, steadier as the game went on. (I guess to be fair, that description fits most of the team, but the rest of the roster isn’t on Leash Level: Microscopic.)
It may be moot if Lee is ready to go by Thursday in Columbus.
Trotz said it was about 4 pm when the #Isles made the decision to keep Anders Lee out of lineup. Said Lee wasn't feeling well. "Probably something he ate."— Christian Arnold (@C_Arnold01) October 20, 2021
Matt Martin Returns
Safe to say he provided a spark. He also got in a fight, one of those forced by an unfortunate event: As he was laying a legal check on Mike Hardman, the Hawks winger fell or reached forward at the last second, which lined his head up between the glass and Martin’s body. Martin accepted the obligatory challenge, after first checking on Hardman, who left for observation.
Cal Clutterbuck on the return of Matt Martin: "We were able to get more pucks back on forechecks. We did a better job of holding onto them and getting into our traditional looks... Definitely nice having Marty back."#Isles— Joe Pantorno (@JoePantorno) October 20, 2021
Isles on ESPN
I almost hesitate to ask, but...what did you think of that ESPN production? Play-by-play was fine to me, but...the studio guys were kind of stiff. Okay, really stiff. They opened up a bit by their final intermission segment though.
Snark-free take on that ESPN studio: Messier & Chelios are deadpan, never-show-'em-you're-impressed types. So Levy digging to conjure ALL the enthusiasm & bring them to life. Like a teacher in front of sophomores who are too cool for poetry. It's early though, chemistry may come.— Lighthouse Hockey (@LHHockey) October 20, 2021
- Mike Bossy announced he’s dealing with lung cancer and will take a leave of absence from his role with TVA. Pulling for #22. [LHH | Isles | NHL]
- Island Ice podcast: Andrew Gross talks to former Isles color man Billy Jaffe. [Newsday]
- No Sleep Till Belmont podcast: Arthur Staple discusses the opening two games and talks breakaways with Michael Grabner. [Athletic]
- The Isles or USB Arena or whatever announced an official car partner, but the headline “drives into USB Arena” gives me PTSD flashbacks to the Brooklyn Honda. (...which itself never really bothered me, except that it was a constant topic) [Isles]
- Cool write-up on the growing number of Isles Meet-Ups around the country. [Isles]
- Hmmm...the Athletic’s Isles beatwriter Arthur Staple is taking on a modified role as its New York hockey columnist, covering
cats and dogsthe Rangers and Isles. [Athletic]
- The ECHL Railers will host a block party for opening night Saturday. [Railers HC]
Last night’s NHL scores include a ton of games. Some highlights: The Penguins lost in a shootout to Dallas, the Sabres won to open 3-0, and the Sharks trounced the Canadiens 5-0 to make the Cup finalists 0-4.
- Aaaand the Montreal media is out in force, with a rumor that Marc Bergevin will be ousted and replaced by Patrick Roy. A Toronto columnist enjoys. [Star]
- Nikita Kucherov is going to LTIR, may need surgery, will definitely be out a while. [Raw Charge]
- Mark Stone will not need surgery in Vegas, but his return is unclear. [NHL]
- It’s not clear where Evander Kane will be after his 21-game suspension is served, but the Sharks players sure aren’t going to worry about it. [Athletic]
- Pierre LeBrun talks to agents and execs (including Lou Lamoriello) about all the new long-term contracts. To me this is a reasonable and inevitable response to both the pandemic/cap pressures and the fact that seven-eight years is a lot better shared risk (and not cap dodging) vs. the 13-year backdivers of the old CBA. [Athletic]
- With the cap-stretched Leafs and Avalanche recently turning to short rosters/EBUGs, Elliotte Friedman says there should be cap exceptions. I say, you know the rules, build in a cushion. [32 Thoughts]
- Pavel Buchnevich was suspended two games for head butting a Coyote. [NHL]
- Jack Hughes was off to a quick start but left last night’s game after landing on his shoulder. [Sportsnet]
- About twice Hughes’ age, Oilers goalie Mike Smith may also be injured. [TSN]