These guys really do look a lot like the Islanders of the last few seasons.
For the first time since November, the New York Islanders can say that they won in regulation two games in a row. They did it in style, too: Just one night after dropping six goals on the Columbus Blue Jackets en route to a shutout, they dropped five on the Winnipeg Jets to make eleven goals in two nights. And Barry Trotz hit yet another career milestone with 900 games won.
Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey are heating up, while Kyle Palmieri and Anthony Beauvillier continue to play well, too. Everything is coming together. It’s probably too late, but at least the stretch run could be interesting.
Mathew Barzal and Zdeno Chara both returned to the lineup, each having missed the last six games due to injury. Otto Koivula went back to Bridgeport. Also, Kieffer Bellows re-entered the lineup. Oliver Wahlstrom and Sebastian Aho watched from the press box.
Barzal lined up on the third line next to Bellows and Zach Parise, easing his way back into the game, seemingly. Semyon Varlamov started for New York while Connor Hellebuyck started for Winnipeg.
#Isles in warmups (No Aho or Wahlstrom)— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) March 12, 2022
The Islanders got the game’s first power play and, for the sixth time in eleven opportunities, they converted. Andrew Copp failed to clear, giving it right to Noah Dobson. Dobson found Anthony Beauvillier at the left circle, and Beauvillier went cross-ice to Brock Nelson in the right circle. Nelson didn’t miss, earning his 23rd goal of the season. Dobson extended his point streak to five games, too.
Later in the period, Barzal stole the puck behind the Winnipeg net and saw Zach Parise skating in and away from his defender. Parise’s shot didn’t land, but the line kept up the pressure. Bellows then took a pass from Barzal and whiffed on his first try but rang the post on his second.
The Isles couldn’t take advantage of an odd-man rush, but the Jets went two-on-zero back the other way. Kyle Connor easily beat Varlamov one-timing the cross-ice pass from Nikolaj Ehlers.
Thus, the period ended 1-1.
The Islanders opened the second with two goals in forty seconds, both from guys who scored the night before. First, Josh Bailey took a pass in the slot from J-G Pageau and put it gingerly off Hellebuyck’s chest. But the Jets’ goalie left a rebound near the stick side post that Bailey cleaned up.
Bailey gets his own rebound! pic.twitter.com/t5WYS1cNMi— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 12, 2022
Next, Anders Lee scored yet again, his sixth in less than three games to that point, and his line with Nelson and Beauvillier stayed hot. Beauvillier passed to Nelson cutting into the slot, and Nelson fired off Hellebuyck, but Lee was there for the rebound—he roofed it, too.
Not long after that, Nelson caught Hellebuyck taking his time behind the net and swiped the puck from him, but Hellebuyck got back just in time to stop Nelson’s wraparound chance.
Then, Ehlers nearly cut the deficit for the Jets. He had a wide-open net with Varlamov out of position. But Ehlers hit the inside of the far post. Adam Pelech dove, but he was late, so Ehlers would have had a goal had he been more accurate.
Ehlers and Connor were all over the ice tonight; they combined for another two-on-one, but Ehlers blasted the puck wide. Following the next face-off, Ehlers ripped a one-timer that Varlamov blocked.
With three minutes remaining in the period, Casey Cizikas drew a holding-the-stick penalty by Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler. For fun, the same officials that worked last night’s game— and called Cizikas for four penalties—worked tonight’s game. That fact certainly was more entertaining than the power play itself; it was not very dangerous.
Much like the second period, the third began with an early goal scored into the net to the right of the center ice logo. Of course, that means it was a Jets goal and a fluky one at that. It went off two Jets’ skates as well as Scott Mayfield’s and was ultimately credited to Wheeler.
The Islanders got their third power play, but much like the second one, it was lackluster and probably generated more for Winnipeg. However, then Bailey scored his second of the game. Hellebuyck blocked a point shot from Pelech, but he again left a rebound that Bailey cleaned up. That was his second of the night and third in two nights.
Midway through the period, Kyle Palmieri, who quietly played another strong game, had plenty of space off an odd-man rush, but the puck slid under Hellebuyck. Palmieri later got the puck back and found Andy Greene on one side of the post. Greene whipped around the other side and actually beat Hellebuyck to the opposite post, but his shot was rushed and along the line enough for Hellebuyck to prevent a goal.
And before the next commercial break, Barzal led a one-on-one rush at 21 miles per hour and initially had no help, yet still spun around and dished to Parise in the slot. Safe to say that Bailey’s second goal brought the Isles back to life.
With 6:18 to go in the third period, Brenden Dillon finished his check hard on Bailey and gave him a jab in the groin. Bailey, in un-Bailey-like fashion, responded with what probably should have been called a spear. Instead, the two both received slashing minors and lowered the on-ice manpower to four-on-four.
Early in the four-on-four, Nelson tried another wraparound but was stopped by Hellebuyck. On the other end of the ice, Varlamov robbed SOMEONE in tight with a sweet pad save.
Coming out of the commercial break and with just under five minutes left in regulation, the Jets pulled their goalie to make it five-on-four. But they never even got set up before Cal Clutterbuck launched one from his own face-off circle into the open net.
That took a lot of the drama out of the game, but Mark Schiefele earned himself an unsportsmanlike conduct minor to end the period. Bailey was out there looking for the hat trick and actually had a two-on-one with Parise, but he didn’t score.
It didn’t matter, though, and the Islanders won 5-2 for their first consecutive regulation wins since November 4 and 6 against the Montreal Canadiens and these same Jets.
Notes and Thoughts
- Bailey has been playing better since getting healthy scratched. Competition works.
- Gotta love Nelson scoring a goal in his fourth consecutive game.
- Lee, too, scored yet again. His six goals in the last three games took him from 14 to 20 on the season. He and Nelson just consistently rip off 20 goals every season. Our Minnesota boys.
- Varly played well too to earn his first win of the calendar year 2022—since December 30. It was only his fourth win of the season: He finally got some run support.
- Congratulations to Trotz. 900 NHL coaching wins is a rare feat.
The Islanders close out this six-game homestand with a Sunday night game against the Anaheim Ducks. It’s a 7:30 p.m. start. Make it three straight!