The Islanders scored early in every period tonight, setting the tone in one of their best performances of the season. The various injuries all over the lineup created the need for some new line combos, and the Zach Parise-JG Pageau-Casey Cizikas line was one of the highlights. Hudson Fasching also got a big opportunity tonight, after an early injury to Oliver Wahlstrom had Fasching bumped up to Barzal’s line.
Despite the circumstances, the Islanders shut down one of the hottest teams in the NHL, picking up a big win against a division rival.
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A minute in, Anders Lee put the Islanders on the board off a Brian Dumoulin turnover that Brock Nelson picked up.
Brock keeps it in and finds the captain to open the scoring early for the #Isles pic.twitter.com/ph0jZQm29q— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 28, 2022
Oliver Wahlstrom made a big hit on Chad Ruhwedel, and then Pierre-Oliver Joseph retaliated, catching Wahlstrom up high. Wahlstrom would leave the game after and did not return.
Casey Cizikas appeared to make it 2-0, putting the puck in the net before the ref blew the whistle. After it was determined to be a good goal on that front, the Penguins issued an offside challenge, and the goal was overturned.
Kris Letang went to the box for interference, and on the delayed penalty Scott Mayfield missed high from the slot. The power play woes continued, and the Penguins were able to kill it.
Cizikas had another good chance on a 2 on 1 with Hudson Fasching, but Tristan Jarry made the save.
Anthony Beauvillier went to the box for his own interference penalty, and while the Penguins had some good chances, but the Isles killed it.
Joseph took a shot that took a weird bounce and went past Ilya Sorokin to tie the game 1-1.
JG Pageau hit the crossbar early, but the Islanders wouldn’t rue that missed opportunity for too long, as Fasching took a shot off a pass from Josh Bailey, and Mat Barzal got a great tip on it to put the puck past Jarry and make it 2-1.
Barzal with the perfect tip is his 6th of the season and puts the #Isles up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/mfHjt4onKd— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 28, 2022
Following that goal, the Islanders really dominated the period. A chance by Sidney Crosby that was saved by Sorokin was the only notable one for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins got away with a penalty when Brock Nelson was high sticked behind the play.
A good forechecking shift from Barzal and Alex Romanov helped set up an unbelievable pass from Noah Dobson to find Josh Bailey all alone, and Bailey put the puck into an empty net to make it 3-1.
Noah Dobson to a wiiiiide open Josh Bailey pic.twitter.com/77xwck6lxS— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 28, 2022
5 minutes later, good work down low by Fasching and Bailey helped get the puck to Barzal, who scored from a sharp angle, hitting Jarry’s shoulder before it went in the net.
Fasching buzzing and creating and the puck comes to Barzal who buries it in the toy department!! pic.twitter.com/wRiXFyPv2K— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 28, 2022
At the end of the period, Pageau made a bad pass that gave the Penguins a good offensive opportunity, but he was able to get back defensively to break it up. Beauvillier and Lee had a 2 on 1, but Lee shot the puck wide.
By the end of the second, the Isles had outshot Pittsburgh 20-4 in the period, and 34-16 overall.
Three minutes into the third, Ryan Pulock took a shot, Nelson picked up the rebound, and then Lee picked up the second rebound, scoring to make it 5-1 and prompting plenty of sarcastic “Jarry!” chants around UBS Arena.
Anders Lee plays it off the skate and in for his 2nd of the night! pic.twitter.com/EDN1i0Dwps— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 28, 2022
The Islanders did a good job closing the game out, shutting down the increasingly frustrated Penguins, who only managed 4 shots in this period as well despite being down 4 goals.
Crosby and Mayfield got into it after a whistle, and then about a shift later for each of them, Crosby was called for crosschecking Mayfield, sending the Islanders to the PP, which they couldn’t convert on. They were given a second power play opportunity after Jeff Carter tripped Dobson, but also couldn’t break their lengthy 5v4 scoreless streak on that, either, ending the game as a 5-1 win over the Penguins.
- Casey Cizikas was really good on the wing with Parise and Pageau, and though Aatu Raty didn’t get much ice time, he didn’t look too out of place as a 20 year old center in the NHL. Might be something to consider even as players return from injury.
- Speaking of Aatu Raty, it was nice that his parents were interviewed on MSG, and that they were in town for their son’s first NHL game and goal against Florida.
- Josh Bailey had a really solid game tonight, apparently getting called a “Penguin killer” over on the Pittsburgh broadcast. Pretty fitting given what Bailey’s done to that team in various playoff series!
Next, the New York Islanders finish up their homestand with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. The Isles have a chance to pick up 6 out of 6 points at home and keep some positive momentum heading into the ever-annoying Seattle plus western Canada road trip.