Looking to sustain good vibes before heading out on a difficult back-to-back weekend in Florida, the New York Islanders laid a jaw-droppingly rotten egg in Elmont to the New Jersey Devils.
The 4-1 final completely flattered the home team, who didn’t register a shot until 17 minutes into the game, and would’ve been completely blown out if not for Ilya Sorokin.
The period-by-period official shots were 13-3, 10-9 and 18-5 (in the third period, when the Islanders needed a push with the score still within reach), for a total of 41-17. The Devils also rang some posts and forced several outstanding saves from Sorokin, while the Islanders rarely generated anything to convince you they might be able to steal a point — that’s how bad this night was.
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There were many times throughout the first period where I blinked as I checked the zero on the shot clock and thought, “No way. Surely at least a weak dribbler reached the net?”
They finally got a little bit going with a power play late in the opening period, but only enough to look respectable, not threatening.
The Devils finally to their overdue first goal early in the second period, when Damon Severson sent a breathtakingly insightful pass from deep in his own zone to the far blueline to spring Jack Hughes, who made nifty moves to beat Sorokin. Ondrej Palat added a second goal midway through the period, with quick Devils work after a defensive zone turnover by Brock Nelson.
The Islanders had no business being in this game, but they were still there, down 2-0 late in the second with a power play. They worked the puck decently well, but the threat ended when Anders Lee took a high-sticking penalty trying to prevent a clearance.
Early in the third, still down 2-0, the Identity Line came inches away from pulling within one, then Cal Clutterbuck ended the threat with a crosschecking penalty behind the Devils net.
Going into the third period with absolutely nothing going, they had adjusted line combos a bit. It didn’t help.
#Isles new new look— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 21, 2022
The Islanders at least broke MacKenzie Blackwood’s attendance-prize shutout bid with 3:16 left in regulation, after the Isles pulled Sorokin for a fifth attacker while the teams were at 4-on-4.
But after preventing a few close-call attempts at the empty net, the Isles finally succumbed to a Nico Hischier lob from center ice.
That made it 4-1 in a game that should’ve been 8-0.
#Isles Lane Lambert on 4-1 loss to #NJDevils: "Extremely disappointing because we had been trending up. We had done a lot of good things in the last couple of games. But tonight was a tough night for for everyone."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 21, 2022
Lambert later added he didn't like Isles' compete level.
Lambert Postgame Availability pic.twitter.com/wZi2TJZIl0— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 21, 2022
As noted before, the Islanders head to Florida for a back-to-back swing against the Lightning and Panthers. They could’ve headed down there with a 3-1 record, instead they risk coming back with a 2-4.
After Florida, they face a couple more top teams plus the Rangers. The end of October could be pivotal.