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Islanders 3, Coyotes 0: Sorokin earns first shutout of the season, Isles pick up second win

It wasn’t always pretty, and it was mostly boring, but the Islanders get a much-needed two points against weak opposition.

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

This game was pretty ugly for the Islanders in the first two periods. The Arizona Coyotes are likely to be one of the worst teams in the league this year, but they were outchancing the Islanders 15-7 through two periods. That kind of performance has been a theme for the Islanders in these first 5 games of the season, and it’s frustrating to watch when we know that the team is capable of better. Given how rough the Nelson line has looked early in the season, it was nice to see them play a role on two of the goals (though one was on the power play) that counted, plus the one overturned goal. But it’s really about consistency for the Islanders, and they haven’t shown the ability to put together a complete 60 minute game yet this season.

[NHL Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period

Not a whole lot happened in this one, with neither team generating much offense at all.

Connor Timmins had a puck go off the post after beating Sorokin, and Oliver Wahlstrom tipped a shot just wide through the crease, keeping us scoreless along with the anemic offense.

Then, Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas hustled to create a 2 on 1 and Clutterbuck took it himself, making it 1-0 for his second goal of the season.

Barzal drew a tripping penalty, giving the Islanders a power play opportunity that was quickly negated by Kyle Palmieri getting called for slashing. Neither team accomplished anything on the 4 on 4, but the Isles would end the period up 1-0 despite only taking 4 shots.

Second Period

The Isles created a few more chances this period, with Anthony Beauvillier forcing a save early and Ryan Pulock hitting the post. But the Barzal line was hemmed in, giving the Coyotes plenty of opportunities to generate some good chances of their own.

Ilya Sorokin had to turn away 10 shots in this frame, and he looked solid in his net while doing so, keeping the Islanders in the game despite another slow start.

Matt Martin fought Liam O’Brien after O’Brien clipped Cizikas, Nelson hit the post while in alone on Karel Vejmelka, and Jay Beagle went to the box for crosschecking.

The power play started off its same mediocre way, but Nelson brought the puck in and got it to Josh Bailey, whose shot deflected off of what was later determined to be Nelson’s skate and into the net to make it 2-0. The goal was originally credited to Bailey, but switched to Nelson. On the goal, though, Bailey moved to 10th all time in points as a New York Islander, tying him with Bobby Nystrom.

Third Period

Clayton Keller had one of the better chances of the night for the Coyotes, as they took advantage of a Chara turnover to pressure the Islanders and try to get a goal back. Lawson Crouse also had a rocket of a shot hit Sorokin’s stick for a save, as he was critical in keeping the Isles up by two goals.

Then, Palmieri set up Nelson on a breakaway, but Brock’s shot was saved initially. Vejmelka had the puck under his glove on the ice, but the whistle hadn’t blown yet, and Palmieri came in to get the seemingly loose puck and put it in the net. The Coyotes challenged that goal for interference and ultimately it was determined that the puck had been frozen and that there was intent to blow the whistle, and so the score remained 2-0.

Until just a few seconds later, when Nelson would send a dump pass to Beauvillier, who picked it up and deked forehand-backhand to score and make it 3-0, but for real this time. Both Nelson and Palmieri got points on that goal, well deserved since both had to absorb some contact to make it happen.

The Isles would close out the game pretty uneventfully from then on, with the Coyotes getting just one notable chance late in the game to threaten Sorokin’s shutout. This time, though, unlike in Chicago, Sorokin would pick up his first shutout of the season, making 26 total saves on the night.

Quick Thoughts

  • Trotz switched up the top two lines, which seemed to pay off in the third period as Beauvillier, Nelson, and Palmieri started to figure each other out. I think Trotz is going to keep these lines around for a bit, but Bailey’s slow start is a little worrisome.
  • Zdeno Chara had arguably his best game this season, but still was struggling at times. I really, really think Trotz needs to give Aho a shot sooner rather than later, or even Robin Salo, who has impressed so far in Bridgeport (and scored an OT winner tonight!)
  • I think it’s a moral victory that Andrew Ladd didn’t score tonight, because I thought for sure that was going to happen.

Up Next

Tomorrow, we play hockey again, but this time against the Vegas Golden Knights, no longer the league’s youngest team, but still considered one of its best despite their own slow start. Call it the conference finals curse? The MSG broadcast mentioned it, but all four teams that made the conference finals are a combined 6-12-2. I guess this game will tell us which team has a bigger postseason hangover!