The New York Islanders had not scored seven goals in any game during the 2021-22 season under Barry Trotz, but it took them two games to reach that milestone in 2022-23 under new coach Lane Lambert.
Was Saturday night’s 7-1 goalfest over the Anaheim Ducks a blip, or a reflection of the new, more open approach under Lambert?
That’s the beauty and the puzzle of being just two games into the season. The first game, a 3-1 loss to the Panthers, was a low-goal, mixed-bag affair. In sharp contrast, absolutely everything went right Saturday. The Islanders were sharp in transition, they were getting goal threats from everywhere — five from the blueline, including a pair each from Robin Salo and Scott Mayfield — and things just clicked.
Even the power play had moments, especially the final one, where they looked dangerous.
The Panthers and Ducks, expansion siblings once upon a time, are in situations as different as the fortunes of their founding corporations, so Quality of Competition is another caveat to add as we gauge this second game of the season.
But no matter what it does or does not portent, it was a fun one.
Scott Mayfield opened scoring in the first, then added to the pile-on with the Islanders’ fourth goal in the second period. But first, the Identity Line announced its return — Cal Clutterbuck came off IR earlier in the day — with a good forecheck shift and a goal by Noah Dobson to make it 2-0. It was originally credited to Matt Martin, who had crashed the net from the corner.
The Isles kept up the pressure and the game was basically over by late in the second period. Making his season debut, Oliver Wahlstrom had made it 3-0 just 5:34 into the second. It was a beautiful move and upstairs backhander, after J-G Pageau banked a long pass off the neutral zone boards to send him in alone.
After Mayfield’s second goal at 12:55, a favorable deflection of his point shot, the Isles did not let up and scored off a quick and impressive transition just 1:32 later to make it 5-0.
Anthony Beauvillier was the beneficiary and finisher of that one, but it came at the end of a nice chain of passing from Ryan Pulock, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson.
The Islanders were having a good old time, running wild and heavily outshooting the Ducks in both periods, officially 27-15 through two periods.
The third period gave the Ducks their only sign of life, as Troy Terry broke Ilya Sorokin’s shutout bid 89 seconds in, then the Isles took a couple of penalties to face a lengthy 5-on-3.
But after killing that, the Isles added two more — okay, Salo added two more. Combined with Mayfield, that made Oct. 15, 2022, the first time two Islanders defensemen had two goals in the same game since January of 1993.
After struggling some on opening night, this was a big bounce-back for Salo. Like everything else about tonight, discovering whether that’s a flash in the pan or a sign of better things to come is part of the fun.
Quote of the Night
“I can break out into a spontaneous sweat at any point.”
>>Thomas Hickey, during an intermission interview with Shannon Hogan. You had to be there. But it was great to see him and hear him talk about where he is after a Devils PTO did not lead to a contract.
The Isles get one extra day before the Sharks visit on Tuesday night, the third occasion of this four-game opening homestand.