Kevin Lankinen did everything he could to keep the Predators’ 9 game winning streak against the Islanders alive, and he succeeded, making 49 saves on 50 shots and only letting in a snipe from Mat Barzal on the power play.
Barzal, for his part, put up 9 shots on goal, a season high, and was clearly frustrated with the puck just not going in. But two goals against while on the penalty kill sunk the Islanders, who just couldn’t make a comeback in the third.
Mat Barzal got an early breakaway opportunity and was taken down, but no penalty was called. Mark Jankowski forced Ilya Sorokin into a good save at the other end.
The signs that it was going to be One Of Those Games began when Anthony Beauvillier made a great backhand pass to Anders Lee, who took a shot that got past Lankinen and appeared to maybe just slightly cross the goal line before Lankinen could sweep it out with his skate. The call on the ice was no goal, and after some video review, they confirmed that call. There was only ever really one angle showed of the play, and they didn’t show the part where I thought the puck went in (when he scooped it out with his skate, it looked like he pushed it slightly further back before he pushed it out, which would have almost certainly meant it crossed the goal line) but I guess I’ll take the NHL’s word for it.
On that play, Jeremy Lauzon was called for delay of game for sending the puck over the glass, but the Predators killed the penalty.
Recent call up Cole Bardreau took a slashing penalty, and on that power play, Big Swede Filip Forsberg scored to make it 1-0 Nashville.
Tanner Jeannot took a roughing penalty, but again Nashville killed it.
Simon Holmstrom took a nifty shot that hit the post, and on the same shift lost an edge and took a friendly fire shot to the side. He was fine, fortunately, but again, One Of Those Games.
Matt Martin laid a big but clean hit on Alexandre Carrier, which drew the attention of Michael McCarron, and the two dropped the gloves to start off a penalty-filled second period.
Sorokin made a couple of big saves, and then the Islanders would head to the power play after Lauzon high sticked Oliver Wahlstrom. On that power play, Anders Lee was called for a slightly suspect tripping penalty, sending us to 4 on 4 hockey, until 7 seconds later Sebastian Aho was called for holding. Roman Josi scored quickly on the 4 on 3 to give the Predators a two goal lead.
After that, Barzal had a goal near-robbed from him by Lankinen, and was later stopped on his second breakaway of the game.
To close the period out, the Predators had a couple of scary opportunities as the Isles seemed to just lose track of where everyone was on the ice, but fortunately survived the second down just two goals.
The Islanders came out pressing in the third, with Barzal having a fun little backhand spin-o-rama shot saved, one of the 9 shots they took to open the period vs Nashville’s 1.
Lankinen got some assistance from Ryan McDonagh to make a save on an Alexander Romanov backhand, as McDonagh’s face, unfortunately for him and for us, got in the way of the shot. McDonagh would leave the game bleeding pretty heavily from where the puck hit him.
McCarron was called for hooking Aho, sending the Islanders to the power play, where Mat Barzal scored just his third goal of the season to make it 2-1.
The Isles kept putting on pressure after that, looking to tie the game, and eventually pulled Sorokin for an extra skater with under 2 minutes left to play. Noah Dobson coughed up the puck under pressure from Matt Duchene at the blue line, and he scored to make it 3-1 for Nashville. The Islanders tried again, pulling Sorokin for a second time, and Mikael Granlund made it 4-1, continuing to prove that the Nashville Predators are just the Islanders’ kryptonite.
- Dobson unfortunately has a bad habit of giving away the puck under pressure. For all his offensive talents and his ability to make plays at the blue line, that’s something he needs to work on.
- This was honestly one of the Islanders’ best games of the season at even strength, and that makes it even more annoying that it ended in a loss. But that’s probably some form of hockey karma after what we did to the Edmonton Oilers recently...
- I would’ve liked to see the Lee-Barzal-Nelson combination again after its role in some of the big comebacks this season. Putting those three together seems to result in good things, and while you can’t really complain about how their normal lines played tonight, they just have that ability to really turn up the pressure on opposing teams.
- AJ Mleczko pointed out on the broadcast that the Islanders probably should have looked to pull Sorokin a little sooner, when they had more comfortable possession in the Predators’ end a minute before they pulled him. Hindsight is 20/20 but I do think we’re a little too conservative on that front.
Next, the Islanders take on the Chicago Blackhawks at UBS Arena on Sunday night. Their last meeting this season was a 3-1 Islanders win, and Chicago is currently on an 8 game losing streak, and will be on the second half of a back to back when they play the Isles. Should be a good opportunity for a bounce back game!