The Isles led 2-0 and entered the third period still tied 3-3 and with a(nother) power play chance, but the result was a 5-4 loss that was made a little closer by a late goal with a sixth attacker.
Ilya Sorokin’s slump continued, taking the loss again while conceding five goals on 29 shots, though some were tough bounces off his own teammates.
In one bright spot, the Isles welcomed both Kyle Palmieri and Anthony Beauvillier back from the injured list, though Alex Romanov and Cal Clutterbuck each left this game late.
First Period: Promising start, ominous finish
Sebastian Aho got things off to a promising start and continued his breakout season, rifling a slap shot through for a 1-0 lead just 1:41 into the game.
The Isles looked in good shape through most of the period, and 12 minutes later they doubled their lead. Good work from Oliver Wahlstrom down low to win the puck to the point, a hard low shot by Robin Salo, and then Mathew Barzal’s poke at the rebound trickled across the line for a 2-0 lead.
But late in the period, Anthony Beauvillier took the first of many Islanders penalties on the night, and the Coyotes got back in the game.
In a pivotal moment, just after Beauvillier’s penalty expired, the Coyotes got back in the game. Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal made it a one-goal game instead of the Isles carrying a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Second Period: Foreshadowing fulfilled
The middle period was a weird and frustrating one, where it felt like the game got away even though it finished tied.
It featured six penalties — four on the Islanders — a nine-minute delay, and two Coyotes goals just 14 seconds apart. Clayton Keller and Nick Bjugstad provided that turn around, tying it at 2-2 and giving the Isles a 3-2 lead in the blink of an eye.
At one point the Isles were being outshot 11-1 in the period, but they finally turned it on late with some good pressure. Noah Dobson got the tying goal with under three minutes left, on a point shot that was kindly deflected up high by Gostisbehere sticking his foot out to block it.
Aho drew a penalty late while skating behind the net, giving the Isles 37 seconds of power play time to close out the period and, failing that, some hopes to carry into the third.
Third Period: Things fall apart
So the Islanders began the third period with 83 seconds of power play and a great chance to take the lead. J-G Pageau had a nice deflection off the crossbar, and the Isles had lots of sustained pressure, chiefly funneling chances through Dobson point shots.
That proved costly, as within a minute of the power play expiring the Coyotes were back in the lead. Travis Boyd walked in along the goal line and was able to stuff his own rebound under Sorokin and in.
But 30 seconds later, the Isles would get another power play opportunity, as Liam O’Brien went to the box for fighting Scott Mayfield. Mayfield, who had jawed at O’Brien after a hard check (and gratuitous extra shove to the head) on Robin Salo, never dropped his gloves but O’Brien did. So Mayfield got a minor and O’Brien a double minor.
After Palmieri cleanly checked J.J. Moser down in the corner, Nick Ritchie threw a stupid, late, high hit on Palmieri. Robin Salo pushed a bit in retaliation, dealing with both Moser and Ritchie as Beauvillier also joined the fray. Palmieri popped up and felt okay, but concussion spotters pulled him from action for further examination.
The result of the play was a minor for interference on Ritchie, giving the Islanders power play yet another chance to make a difference. Again they managed some shots — this time Ryan Pulock providing the point bombs — but again they came up empty.
The kill shot came when Keller, the Coyotes’ most dangerous player, was inexplicably left all alone in the right wing circle and fired a one-timer off, well — how do I say this? — Alex Romanov’s undercarriage. Romanov had stretched out to try to block the shot, and unfortunately his piece got a painful piece of it.
Romanov took the puck in a bad spot.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) December 17, 2022
The Isles had to kill off one more penalty, a hooking call on Casey Cizikas on the backcheck at the Isles net. After that, they pulled Sorokin early for a sixth attacker and narrowly avoided an empty net goal. Ultimately, they established possession and had some good volleys at the net. Beauvillier finally cashed in by banging in a rebound at 18:21.
They got a few more good looks as time wound down but their luck ran out. The worst-case scenario was realized: The Isles came up empty on what should be the easiest foe on a tough five-game trip.
This road trip enters a danger stretch, as the Isles are in Vegas tomorrow for the second half of a traveling back-to-back. They only have six defensemen with Adam Pelech on IR, so Romanov’s status is pretty important.