Ilya Sorokin slammed the door when needed, including on a shorthanded breakaway for Boone Jenner; Sorokin made the save, and the Isles firmly swung the momentum in their favor by going back down the other way and scoring off the rush.
And of course, the captain, Anders Lee, recorded his first career hat trick after 29(!) career two-goal games.
The Jackets are realistically—in the most strained definition of “realistically”—the only other team outside the playoff picture in the East that could compete with the Islanders to try to chase down one of the teams currently inside the line. If either team is going to catch anyone, it probably would be the Washington Capitals.
There is almost no shot of either team tracking down the Caps at this point unless they really stumble. But the upcoming stretch for the Islanders features some very winnable games, including a matchup against Washington. Never say die?
Oh yeah, there’s another game tonight! It’s one of those winnable games in the upcoming stretch that I just referenced: The Winnipeg Jets stop by for a visit. They, like the Islanders, played and won last night, beating the New Jersey Devils, 2-1.
Tonight should be something of a slog with both teams having played the night before. Not to mention the weight of expectation to which both teams have not lived up this season.
About last night:
- They rolled to an easy win last night, and they updated some record books in the process. [LHH]
- Lee’s hat trick helped seal the Jackets’ fate. [3 Takeaways]
- But it was never really in doubt thanks to Sorokin. [Newsday]
- The broadcast crew last night featured new people in just about every seat: Bill Pidto sat in for Shannon Hogan; AJ Mleczko sat in for Butch Goring; and Jiggs McDonald(!) sat in for Brendan Burke. [Newsday]
- Because of the result, it didn’t even matter that Casey Cizikas took four penalties:
- Some keys for tonight’s game against the Jets. Watch out for Kyle Connor. [Isles]
- Zdeno Chara seems to be a bit closer to returning than Mathew Barzal. [Newsday]
- The reality of the situation is that the Islanders probably know that they’re sellers at the trade deadline, and they have a couple of attractive pieces with an extra year on their deal (two playoff runs instead of one) in Semyon Varlamov and Scott Mayfield. They have a decision to make as to whether to trade them, though. [The Athletic]
- Andy Greene ain’t sweatin’ the upcoming trade deadline. He has been in this position before. [Newsday]
- This (Yester)Day in Isles History: The Islanders traded Dave Lewis and Billy Harris to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Butch Goring (1980). You know the rest.
- Former Islander Alexei Zhitnik, who has lived in Ukraine since he retired, will do anything he can to help. [The Athletic]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Blues beating up on the Rangers and chasing Igor Shesterkin (teehee) and the Maple Leafs falling to the Arizona Coyotes, who chased Toronto’s starter, Petr Mrazek. But last night and yesterday featured so much more than its scores—I wish hockey off the ice was always this interesting. Returns, drama, intrigue! An awful contract, a couple of heated press conferences, and goalie controversies!
- Jack Eichel returned to Buffalo for the first time, but Craig Anderson won his 300th game as the Sabres topped the Golden Knights, 3-1. [NHL]
- To top it off, two of their three goals came from the two guys that Buffalo acquired in exchange for Eichel—local boy Alex Tuch and exciting rookie Peyton Krebs. And the season-high crowd came to boo. Around these parts, that’s something we can respect. [The Athletic]
- Eichel said that he underestimated the emotions he felt in his return. [NHL]
- And it obviously got to him:
Jack Eichel: yeah, it's about the loudest I've heard this building ever. Really, it only took seven years and me leaving to get into the game........they must just be booing me because they wish I was still here @WKBW pic.twitter.com/2FatvHS1d7— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) March 11, 2022
- In preparation for Eichel’s return, ESPN ranked some other emotional NHL homecomings—positive or negative. You know which one was no. 1. [ESPN]
- More drama: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog slammed the refs to open his press conference following his team’s 2-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. [The Athletic]
- The Philadelphia Flyers did the thing, giving Rasmus Ristolainen five more years to figure out his game at an AAV of $5.1 million. [NHL] BSH explains why this contract stinks “without using one stat,” giving us a video breakdown. [BSH]
- A couple of teams with goalie issues just got even more of them: Robin Lehner is injured again, having been sent home from the Vegas Golden Knights’ road trip for further evaluation. [NHL]
- And now Jack Campbell, the Maple Leafs’ faltering regular starter, will miss the next two weeks with a rib injury. If he’s traded, Varlamov might bring back a haul. [NHL]
- Miro Heiskanen will be out indefinitely with mononucleosis. That’s a tough blow for the Dallas Stars, who are trying to remain in the playoff hunt. [NHL]
- Jonathan Huberdeau has received a lot of Hart buzz for his gaudy point totals, especially while teammate Aleksander Barkov missed time, but his 200-foot game lacks and sometimes actively hurts the Florida Panthers. That, by definition, means he could not be the “most valuable player.” [The Athletic]