The New York Islanders picked a day-late/dollar-short time to finally put together a win streak again, but we won’t reject another solid performance at home as they dumped the Anaheim Ducks, 4-3 on Sunday night at Belmont. (If you thought it was 5-3 and went about your business, know that they took away the empty net goal some time after the game.)
Kyle Palmieri scored twice and Ilya Sorokin made 39 saves to bring the Isles to 24-24 8 on the season.
Yes, the victory pulls the Isles back to NHL .500 with 26 games of limbo to go. They remain 18 points behind the second wild card holder, a position they’ve seemingly been in for all of 2022.
Amidst a busy schedule, the Islanders will evidently do some rotation with their lineup — though two or three of the rotating players have the youngest legs on the roster. Anyway, it was Oliver Wahlstrom’s turn to step in, this time and at least briefly getting some time with Mathew Barzal. Ross Johnston was also in, while Kieffer Bellows, Matt Martin and Sebastian Aho sat.
Asked #Isles Barry Trotz as to what he can expect with Oliver Wahlstrom starting out with Mathew Barzal tonight and whether he thinks it will mesh. “I can’t even answer that. That’s why I’m doing it.”— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) March 13, 2022
#Isles in warmups (same as this morning)— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) March 13, 2022
First Period: Late goals create Isles opening
Things started great for the Barzal-Wahlstrom combo with the veteran Parise on their wing. Wahlstrom led a rush out of the Isles zone, then forechecked well as did Parise. Parise’s check behind the net forced a bad pass out front that went right to Barzal, who tried to do the between the legs shot as John Gibson slid with him. Barzal didn’t get enough on the shot, but it slide by Gibson where Parise had come out front to bang it in.
That made it 1-0 at 2:18. On their next shift, Wahlstrom briefly celebrated a stuff-in attempt but Gibson had sealed the post. Wahlstrom had four shots on goal in the first period.
Josh Manson would tie it at the midway point, but Kyle Palmieri — who’s really rediscovered his scoring touch lately — gave the Isles a 2-1 lead with just 28 seconds left in the period. He absolutely sniped from low in the left wing circle, though Gibson definitely left him too much room on the near side:
Another look at Palmieri's snipe. pic.twitter.com/ikJIG3LzfC— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 14, 2022
But the Isles weren’t done. With four ticks on the clock Anders Lee deflected a Ryan Pulock shot past Gibson to change the feeling of the game. A minute earlier, what looked to be a 1-1 game at the intermission was suddenly a two-goal Isles lead.
Second Period: Holding Serve
The Isles failed to extend their lead on an early power play, and Gibson made a few saves afterward to keep the Ducks in it. But the score didn’t change until 14 minutes in with the teams playing 4-on-4 after Casey Cizikas’ second penalty in five minutes. Isac Lundestrom converted for the visitors after they won an offensive zone faceoff, and things were suddenly feeling tight again.
A couple minutes later, the Ducks thought they might have tied it at 3-3 when Max Comtois hit the crossbar, eliciting a surprisingly lengthy video replay review. It clearly didn’t go in, however, and things stayed 3-2...
...but not for long, because Palmieri slammed home a one-timer to make it 4-2 with 2:35 left in the period, after Scott Mayfield did one of his steady forays down the right wing boards.
#24 with the play that setups up Palmieri for his second goal tonight! pic.twitter.com/YB3Tf0JIEc— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 14, 2022
Just as the Ducks looked to be creeping back into it, the Isles headed to the second intermission with a two-goal lead.
Third Period: Holding on
As the trailing team, the Ducks had the majority of shots (16-8) in the third, but the period was marked by jaw-dropping saves that could’ve swung the game in either direction.
Early on, Sorokin stopped Cam Fowler twice in succession to keep the Ducks from pulling within one:
Then on an early power play, the Isles worked it really well and set up Palmieri with a beautiful cross-slot pass and chance for the hat trick with the net gaping open. Gibson turned around and got his paddle on it, stopping it with the only part of his body or equipment that was still blocking any of the net. That would’ve made it 5-2 and likely sealed the game with comfort.
John Gibson is reaching the stick out for this save. pic.twitter.com/KI6XVk15mP— NHL (@NHL) March 14, 2022
“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me John,” I believe is what was mouthed by Palmieri after that insane save by Gibson prevents the hat trick. Still 4-2 with 13:59 left in the third— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) March 14, 2022
Later in the period with the Ducks pressing after a power play of their own, Sorokin absolutely robbed Comtois with a full right-leg stretch to the back door. It looked painful and it was glorious.
The Ducks couldn’t convert on their power play nor at 4-on-4 — Ross Johnston and Josh Manson clashing but not fighting to cause that — and the Isles got to the point in the game where they had to feel pretty good about their two-goal lead.
The Ducks finally broke through with some sustained pressure and net crashing while Gibson was pulled for a sixth attacker. Adam Henrique banged the rebound home to make it 4-3 with 1:44 to go.
Anaheim called a timeout to rest their regulars, but Isles followed a Ducks icing with some good pressure to burn lots of valuable time. Mostly, the visitors did not threaten much the rest of the way, and Cal Clutterbuck potted an empty netter as the horn sounded. Initially his goal counted and even showed up on the scoresheet as a 5-3 final, but video review pulled it back after seeing time had ticked away.
The Islanders finally head back out on the road, visiting the Capitals on Tuesday before coming back to face the Rangers at MSG on Thursday.