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Islanders 5 (1 EN), Blues 2: Five straight regulation wins for the Islanders

Meanwhile, St. Louis has lost six in a row, all in regulation.

New York Islanders v St Louis Blues
Jordan Winnington, eh? Not quite tonight.
Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

The question for tonight’s game was whether two season-defining streaks would continue or whether they would both be snapped. Fortunately for the New York Islanders, and unfortunately for the St. Louis Blues, the streaks continue.

The Islanders closed out their fifth straight regulation win with a four-goal flurry in the first eleven minutes of the second period after they and Ilya Sorokin withstood a big first-period push from a flatlining team whose GM challenged their compete level just two days earlier. Sorokin outdueled Jordan Binnington to keep them in the game, and the offense took over in the second, starting just fourteen seconds in.

The Islanders have now accumulated fourteen points and seven wins, all in regulation, and sit three games above both traditional and NHL .500.

[NHL Gamecenter | Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period: Weather the Storm

The Blues started fast, as expected. Sorokin had to be sharp right away. At one point, Mathew Barzal attempted a lob clear that was caught by a Blue and dumped into the corner, where Adam Pelech retrieved it and gave it up on the forecheck, giving Robert Bortuzzo a high-danger chance. Another soft clear, this one from Cal Clutterbuck, allowed the Blues to keep some Islanders on the ice for over two minutes. Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko got great looks that Alex Romanov blocked successively. But he was on the ice for two and a half minutes.

The Islanders escaped that jam, but coming out of the first commercial break, the Blues took the lead. Torey Krug took a shot from the point that may have been intentionally wide. It went right to Tarasenko, and Romanov lost him. Tarasenko put it into an open net to make it 1-0 St. Louis.

Sebastian Aho tested Binnington with a one-timer from the point set up by Oliver Wahlstrom. But Binnington snared it with his glove, sending the game to another commercial break. The Isles’ top line remained on the ice out of the break, but Wahlstrom tripped up Tarasenko (rather lightly) to give St. Louis the first power play of the game.

Local boy Scott Mayfield prevented a pretty passing play, from Robert Thomas to Barbashev to Tarasenko cross-ice, from reaching the net. That was the Blues’ most dangerous chance, but the Islanders killed it off.

New York generated some energy following the kill. Barzal rushed into the zone and dropped it to Bailey for a shot. The rebound bounced out right to where Barzal was, but it skipped over his stick—had it settled for him, he likely would have scored his first of the season. Later, the wingers changed out, and Palmieri found Parise for a top-corner chance that wouldn’t go. During the flurry, Mayfield ripped a shot off Barbashev’s leg, and play was whistled dead because he couldn’t get up; when he skated off, he couldn’t even put his right foot on the ice.

On a rush of their own, Sorokin robbed St. Louis of a second goal. Thomas went to the sideboard and hit Jordan Kyrou coming over the line. Kyrou found Jake Neighbours in front of the net. But Sorokin stretched out all his limbs to make the stop, trapping it against the right post. That was the Blues’ most threatening opportunity after their goal, though. Following the penalty kill, the Islanders took control of the game, finishing the period up on shots and expected goals.

Second Period: Unloading on a Wounded Opponent

The pressure the Islanders created carried over to a goal fourteen seconds into the second period. They won the period’s opening draw and got the puck back to Noah Dobson. J-G Pageau, after winning the faceoff, skated straightforward through the Blues defenders, and Dobson found him. He got the puck to Palmieri for a shot from the wing. Binnington appeared to stop it but did not corral the rebound, and Dobson found Palmieri for the in-crease tap-in. Tie game at 1.

Then, they went on the power play. Niko Mikkola tripped Clutterbuck, and the first unit had a couple of decent chances before Alexei Toropchenko cross-checked Pageau into Binnington for a short five-on-three.

For their first chance, Barzal found Palmieri across the ice for a one-timer. With Mikkola’s penalty coming to a close, Barzal gave it up to Ryan O’Reilly. He and his killers were eyeing Mikkola coming out of the box, and he tried to find him for the breakaway. But Dobson made an elite play to spot Mikkola coming out of the box behind him to eye and block O’Reilly’s clearing pass, keeping it in the zone. The Blues had begun to fly the zone, and Lee and Brock Nelson were just hanging out at the net. Dobson went cross-ice to Lee to get Binnington moving, and Lee fed it over to Nelson for the goal. 2-1 Islanders just like that.

The period hadn’t even reached its first commercial break before the Islanders increased their lead to 3-1. Wahlstrom forced a turnover in the neutral zone and pushed the puck to Barzal on the zone entry. Bailey joined Barzal for a two-on-one and received Barzal’s pass. Binnington sprawled out to stop his initial attempt, but Bailey stuck with it and, from behind the net, poked the puck off Nick Leddy and over the goal line. Poor Leddy, but we’ll take it.

Blues coach Craig Berube called timeout, and it felt eerily like the Islanders’ game against the Avalanche last week: three quick goals in the second period followed by an opposition timeout, and we saw how well that worked out for us.

But Berube’s timeout did not work out that way. Beauvillier collided with Leddy at the St. Louis blue line behind the play, and Leddy was slow to get up, which provided the Islanders an easy zone entry. Beauvillier passed to Nelson as they came over the line, and Nelson went all the way around the net before dishing it to Lee. Parayko left Lee open and instead tried to block the net with Binnington, but it did not work. 4-1 Islanders in about eleven and a half minutes.

Lee battled Mikkola in front of the net, and Mikkola, likely seeking to re-energize his team, dropped the gloves with Lee. Lee grabbed Mikkola by the throat and hit him with some rights before tumbling him to the ice. With the fight, Lee completed a Gordie Howe hat trick. It was the first one by an Islander since his most

With under five minutes, the Blues thought they had scored a goal to cut the lead, but they crashed the net hard, leading Lane Lambert to challenge for goalie interference. Barbashev, in particular, dove into Sorokin on his own accord, pushing his pad over the line. Barbashev got up before Leddy scored on the rebound, but Sorokin could not recover. Thus, the Isles’ challenge was successful. Lambert is 1-for-1 on challenges.

The Islanders went on the penalty kill shortly after that, as Dobson clipped Brayden Schenn with a high stick. However, New York extinguished any chances the Blues thought they might have and nearly made it a five-goal period on a Nelson wraparound try after the penalty expired. Binnington just got over in time.

Big baby Binnington bumped Sorokin on his way off the ice after the second period, as if Sorokin is the reason he gave up four goals on nine shots in a single period according to Natural Stat Trick. It looked to me that Sorokin laughed at him, too.

Third Period: Grind Out the Clock

Binnington remained in goal to start the third and made a couple of saves. Just about five minutes into the period, the refs and the war room took an extremely long look at a play where Neighbours barreled toward the goal and guided the puck over the line with his skate but knocking off the net. They did not call goal on the ice, and they determined the net was off its moorings before the puck crossed the line. Therefore, no goal.

St. Louis got another crack at the power play when Romanov took a hooking penalty. They moved the puck more quickly this time and were dangerous when they did. But they ended up scoring on a slower play. Barbashev made a great pass to Thomas, and Thomas appeared to try a pass toward the net. It hit Mayfield’s leg and sent a puck going glove-side to the blocker-side corner.

With 8:15 to go, Sorokin robbed Barbashev, flashing the leather to do it. It wasn’t from in close, but he was pretty wide open and got off a good wrister. The Blues continued to press for the rest of the period and pulled Binnington with more than two minutes left. But Pageau, on a clear, floated the puck into the empty net for his first goal of the season with 1:32 remaining. 5-2 Islanders for the final.

Notes and Thoughts

  • Make it five wins in a row for the Islanders and a 7-4-0 record. And they have looked mostly good while doing it. These lines are excellent. I can’t believe I’m watching the same team that looked moribund against the Devils and lackluster against the Lightning and Panthers.
  • On the other side of the rink, the Blues have now lost six straight, all in regulation, after GM Doug Armstrong challenged them. That could be their season, which would be tough for them. Then again, they are the team that was in dead last place in early January 2019 (and went from reeling to a full-on tailspin after a similar home loss to the Islanders that month) and came back to make the playoffs and storm to the Stanley Cup.
  • Five different Islanders scored goals, and Anders Lee did well to earn a Gordie Howe hat trick. It’s been a wonderful streak.
  • I don’t think Jordan Binnington realizes that for a goalie to be effective at head games, he has to be a good goalie first. Otherwise, he’s not intimidating anyone. See Sorokin’s chuckle.

Up Next

The Islanders conclude their midwestern trip with a game against an Eastern Conference opponent, the Detroit Red Wings. It’s an afternoon game this Saturday. Puck drops at 1:00 p.m.