The New York Islanders lost in extra time for the third consecutive game, extending their winless/losing* streak to a horrifying 11 games as they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout at Belmont Park.
In some ways, the Isles can count themselves lucky to fetch any point at all, as they were trailing 2-1 with 3 seconds remaining on the regulation clock. But with the Isles pressing desperately with the sixth attacker, Noah Dobson took a feed from Mathew Barzal and used an Anders Lee screen to tie the game with a sharp wrist shot in side the far post.
That sent the game to overtime, where surely they couldn’t lose for the third consecutive game? Surely. They lost in the shootout instead.
In the first two periods, the teams exchanged a power play goal each. (Yes, for the second consecutive game, the Isles power play actually helped.) It was good work by the second unit, with J-G Pageau and Zach Parise working layers of traffic in front of Marc-Andre Fleury so Pageau could deflect Sebastian Aho’s point shot in.
That made it 1-1 going into the third so you thought...maybe?
No. The Hawks go the go-ahead goal on basically a 3-on-4 rush.
Anyway, this was the big moment that salvaged a point, such an overdue burst of joy in the new venue:
WATCH IT AND TRY NOT TO SCREAM. pic.twitter.com/gG5EQ7TO5H— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 6, 2021
This was generally another incremental improvement game for the Islanders, who created so many good looks for themselves, but still just couldn’t finish. Anders Lee in front, Zach Parise in front, Beauvillier-Pageau combos that just couldn’t connect. Barzal on the rush but with everyone just a step off. Oliver Wahlstrom got his bevy of chances on the power play but nothing in the sweet spot, always teed up for him a little bit off. It was frustrating to watch.
Semyon Varlamov did a good job keeping things close and couldn’t be faulted for Chicago’s go-ahead goal six minutes into the third, as the puck popped free on a fortunate bounce across the slot to Dylan Strome at point blank range.
The Isles pressed for a tying goal but the can’t-shoot-staright ills mentioned above continued. It looked like all was lost in the final minute until Dobson brought much-needed relief.
The tying goal followed several good moments of pressure and game-saving preventions of Blackhawks clears and attempts at the empty net. Mathew Barzal repeatedly drew defenders over before setting up a point shot, and I dare say I was screaming at him to finally shoot when he dished to Dobson for the equalizers that brought an eruption from the UBS Arena crowd.
It was a decent if overly careful overtime. For the third straight game the Isles won the opening faceoff and tried to manicure possession. That made it rather dull, but there were a few chances, including Barzal and Dobson nearly connecting once they finally broke free.
Ultimately, the Isles registered zero shots in the extra frame while Varlamov had to make two stops.
Wahlstrom was stopped on a forehand shot to the glove-side pad. Varlamov stretched loooong to stop Jonathan Toews’ move. Barzal was stopped on a backhand move. Patrick Kane came to a stop to freeze Varlamov and then beat him upstairs. Anthony Beauvillier was stopped coming across the slot and aiming glove side.
The Isles dodged a bullet — though really, they’ve taken so many — when Adam Pelech returned after taking a shot to the open side of his left hand. That happened in the final minute of the second period, and he looked to be in so much pain, ultimately leaving the bench for the room, that I’d just assumed he’d broken something. He was back for the start of the third though and even caught a puck with that hand on an offensive rush.
Ross Johnston stepped in for Matt Martin. Before the game, Barry Trotz said there might be a couple of lineup changes, but didn’t imply they were performance-related. Johnston actually had some nice shifts on some odd combos, including with Parise, who remains biblicly snakebitten.
Even before the 60th minute heroics, Noah Dobson was active and lively most of the night, taking charge on his power play shifts. This was a nifty move inside the offensive blueline:
The Islanders go back over the border to play the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday, a one-game trip before some more home cooking to finish out the week.