Overshadowing tonight’s win was the heartbreaking news that Clark Gillies has passed away. As someone born after the dynasty years, I’ve always heard stories that felt more like myths about the Islanders top line of the 1980s. It feels surreal that one of the men of those myths has passed away so soon, at just 67 years old.
It always felt energizing when Gillies was in the building, and of course, if you’re a post-dynasty kid like me, the Gillies highlight you’ll remember most is when he started a trend that got the Coli rocking, of course outdoing the classic beer chug by smashing the can on his head after.
Gillies was the 67 year old life of the party. May he rest in peace.
Onto the recap of tonight’s game
It was probably one of the least interesting dominant wins this season, but this game had some weird penalty action, a fight, four goals, one of which needed a lengthy review, and a 20 shot period for the Islanders.
Brock Nelson added to his team lead in goals, now with 13 in 24 games, a 44 goal pace over 82 games. Ilya Sorokin earned his fourth shutout of the season, stopping all 17 Arizona shots.
Every two points helps get the Islanders back into the playoff picture, and cleaning up an easy enough game against the Coyotes is exactly what the Isles need heading into a matchup against Toronto tomorrow.
Alex Galchenyuk and Brock Nelson both were sent to the penalty box when Galchenyuk hooked Nelson, but the refs felt Nelson sold it and called him for embellishment. It was a little embellished, though definitely a rare call...
The Islanders had no shots 7 minutes into the game, though the Coyotes weren’t exactly doing much, with only 2 at the same time. Then, the Nelson line started up an extended shift in the offensive zone, and Mat Barzal got on the ice and drew a penalty when he was slashed by Lyubushkin.
The Islanders couldn’t convert on the power play, but picked up some momentum from the man advantage, and Scott Mayfield scored through a screen to make it 1-0. Anders Lee cleanly blocked Scott Wedgewood’s view, and the shot went straight through to the goal.
Anders makes it difficult to see Mayfield's ripper pic.twitter.com/biegaYUZGc— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) January 22, 2022
Then, Barzal found Mayfield, and Mayfield shot the puck across the crease, which hit Lee’s stick and then bounced to Austin Czarnik, who made it 2-0 for his second goal of the season.
Austin dunks home Mayfield's perfect slap pass pic.twitter.com/YD4ymQV94h— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) January 22, 2022
With the Coyotes down 2-0, Liam O’Brien challenged Matt Martin to a fight, and both headed to the locker room after getting fighting majors.
Robin Salo got a shot past Wedgewood, but he was able to make the save as the puck trickled behind him.
At the other end, Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot that nearly got past Sorokin.
Anton Stralman got around Zdeno Chara for a good shot on goal, and then Chara hit Travis Boyd, seemingly taking a penalty. But then, Barzal had control of the puck, and the ref delayed blowing the whistle, eventually blowing the play dead and then determining there was no penalty on the play.
On video replay, though, it seemed that they thought a high stick on Boyd was self-inflicted, however it was actually Chara’s stick, and the Isles got away with one.
A Wahlstrom turnover then led to the Coyotes’ best chance of the period, and then he blocked a shot to make up for the turnover.
Casey Cizikas was slow to get up after a hit by Lyubushkin, and had a cut above his eye that was treated on the bench.
Nelson opted not to pass the puck off to Anthony Beauvillier on a 2 on 1 and shot it past Wedgewood to make it 3-0.
JG Pageau hit the post and Adam Pelech drew a penalty, sending Galchenyuk to the box, again for hooking. The power play had some good looks, and Wedgewood made a great save on Parise to keep it 3-0.
Cizikas took one shift after the hit from earlier in the period, and clearly wasn’t feeling right, heading to the locker room right after.
Then, Nelson was shoved into the Coyotes net and the puck went with him, seemingly making it 4-0. A somewhat lengthy official review was triggered, and it was ruled a good goal. The Coyotes had the option to challenge the play for interference, but chose not to.
Ultimately, the Isles would dominate the third period, only allowing 4 shots on goal from the Coyotes, to win 4-0.
Tomorrow, the Toronto Maple Leafs come to UBS Arena for the second time this season. Last time, the Leafs won against a depleted Isles team dealing with a significant COVID outbreak. This time, the Islanders are much closer to full strength and playing some of their best hockey of the season. Here’s hoping for a win on what could be a very emotional night tomorrow.