Gotta bank the points!
The New York Islanders went into the state of Illinois to take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Thanks to Ilya Sorokin and Brock Nelson, they leave the state with two points and a regulation win. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was certainly a strong road game, especially after losing an important defensive center.
They’re getting it done in all sorts of ways.
The game got off on the wrong foot. Casey Cizikas on his first shift entered on the rush gliding wide, but he barreled over Stalock, knee to head. He received a five-minute major and a game misconduct, both of which were upheld on review. Stalock left the game and was replaced by Arvid Soderblom, making just his second NHL appearance of the season.
Fortunately, even without one of their best penalty killers in Cizikas, the Islanders suffocated the Blackhawks’ power play for all five minutes. If anything, the Islanders had the better opportunity to score with two shorthanded rush chances.
New York controlled play enough to draw a penalty when Juhjar Khaira tripped Sebastian Aho. That one was not successful despite Mathew Barzal playing all two minutes of it. After killing off that penalty, Andreas Athanasiou decided to serve a little retribution by running into Ilya Sorokin without making any effort to stop, though he was moving considerably slower and did not crash as hard; Sorokin did not have to leave the game. The Islanders got another two-minute power play out of it, but it wasn’t very impressive.
The Isles weren’t done on the power play, as shortly thereafter, Nelson drew a penalty against Jason Dickinson. Finally, they converted just thirteen seconds into the man advantage, the beneficiaries of the offensive zone faceoff. Kyle Palmieri threw the puck on net, and the rebound squirted out into the slot. Nelson swiped at the puck, and it slid under Soderblom before Anders Lee pushed it over the line. 1-0 Islanders at the end of the first.
A minute into the period, Scott Mayfield crushed Mackenzie Entwistle, who took a couple of seconds to get up and then responded against Aho. The physicality never really rose above that, even though the previous period was a bit fiery.
Alex Romanov, with plenty of space entering on the wing, had a good chance to complete a nice set-up by Barzal and Noah Dobson, but he hesitated just long enough to allow Soderblom to set up.
Following a period in which 9:13 of the period was at 5v4, it looked like they might play a period without penalties until Oliver Wahlstrom took a tripping penalty. The Islanders killed it off and then got a power play of their own to end the period. They didn’t score, so the final few seconds carried over.
The Islanders had a chance in the first minute of the period, with Nelson and Lee buzzing again. Nelson finally got the Islanders some insurance, assisted by Johnston on the breakout, with a shot over Soderblom’s shoulder seven and a half minutes into the third period.
Nelson’s insurance proved to be important because the Blackhawks scored a power-play goal with Cal Clutterbuck in the box. Caleb Jones’ point shot was tipped on its way to the net by an unprotected Jonathan Toews. With Clutterbuck in the box and Cizikas out of the game, the Isles were missing their top penalty killers.
They slowed the game down after that and actually kept the puck in Chicago’s zone for a good portion of the next five minutes. Coming out of the final break, the Islanders won a defensive zone faceoff, but Adam Pelech put the puck over the glass immediately. Early in the kill, the Blackhawks worked the puck around the zone and made Brendan raise his voice a bit. But after that flurry, the Islanders once again suffocated the Blackhawks’ power play.
The Blackhawks pulled Soderblom for the extra attacker, but the Islanders kept them at bay. After an Isles’ icing, Chicago called timeout to set up something new. They threatened, but the Islanders got the puck out, and Zach Parise closed it out with an empty-netter to make it 3-1.
Notes and Thoughts
- Cizikas’ crashing into Stalock will at least be looked at by the league, as the league reviews all majors. Five and a game was the right call, too. The rule doesn’t forgive the player even if the goalie is out of the crease, and Cizikas made no discernible effort to avoid the contact or slow up, making direct contact with the head. It remains to be seen if it warranted any further discipline.
- It was certainly a defensive game. Not much happened in the second period, to be honest. The Blackhawks didn’t even generate one full expected goal.
- Sorokin deserved the shutout, and only a tip could beat him.
- I’m glad that Brock Nelson is heating up. We may have gotten only a glimpse of Brocktober, but we may be on the precipice of Brockvember. (Nelsvember?)
The Islanders continue their trip through America’s heartland in St. Louis, visiting the struggling Blues. That puck drops at 8:00 p.m.