If only we were at a point in the season where moral victories mattered, this game might have mattered. The Islanders were pretty good against one of the best teams in the league, without their 1C! Zach Parise, Kyle Palmieri, and JG Pageau continue to heat up, but unfortunately all of that is just too late. The Islanders are about 20 points out of a wild card spot, with basically no way to make up all that ground barring epic collapses by the teams in front of them, along with stellar play by the Islanders. But every loss pretty much moves that from “extremely unlikely” to “completely impossible.”
It was a good game though, with a result that the Islanders could genuinely feel hard done by, with a somewhat ambiguous disallowed goal that would have given them a 4-3 lead, along with some unlucky bounces that helped the Avalanche get the puck past Sorokin. They reminded us that there are some talented players here, though it’s likely that not all of them will be sticking around long term.
Nathan MacKinnon scored just over three minutes into the game, taking advantage of a play that started when Anders Lee turned the puck over against the boards. Cale Makar skated it around the offensive zone and found MacKinnon, who ripped it past Ilya Sorokin.
Darcy Kuemper made a good save on Brock Nelson, and then Brock drew a penalty. The power play had some strong puck movement, but wouldn’t convert until after the man advantage was over, with Ryan Pulock getting a shot past Kuemper for his first goal of the season.
First of the season from Ryan Pulock to tie it against the Avs pic.twitter.com/yskakD9VMT— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) March 2, 2022
Casey Cizikas was called for interference, but the Islanders killed the penalty.
Old friend Devon Toews broke up a Josh Bailey-Oliver Wahlstrom 2 on 1, and Ilya Sorokin saved a good shot from Gabriel Landeskog towards the end of the frame.
Less than four minutes in, that same old friend Devon Toews scored to make it 2-1, Avalanche, but their lead would only last about 40 seconds, as JG Pageau tied the game right after.
Pager with the clapper!! Tied 2-2 pic.twitter.com/LDcoV7Qz0f— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) March 2, 2022
Later, Kyle Palmieri would give the Isles the lead, after an extended shift in the Avalanche end, when Andy Greene’s shot was saved by Kuemper and Palmieri picked up the rebound right out in front.
The Avalanche also killed a Makar penalty for high sticking, keeping the game at that close 3-2 advantage for the Islanders.
Sorokin was needed to make some big saves early, and Ross Johnston took an unnecessary penalty against Nazem Kadri. On that power play, Landeskog scored from below the goal line, banking the puck in off Sorokin, tying the game at 3-3. That sequence started after Scott Mayfield failed to clear the puck.
Then, it seemed like Sebastian Aho gave the Islanders the lead back, but the puck was ruled to not have crossed the goal line. I’m... not sure that the puck was still on the red line, but the camera angle publicly available (and its questionable quality) make that hard to determine.
Of course, after that, Andre Burakovsky made it 4-3, when the puck deflected in off Andy Greene.
Nelson took a penalty for slashing MacKinnon, but the Isles killed that.
The Islanders then pulled Sorokin for an extra skater, but couldn’t score, and gave up an empty net goal to Erik Johnson, to lose the game 5-3.
Next, the Islanders head home to face the Vancouver Canucks on March 3rd. It’s been a while since they’ve been at UBS Arena, so I’m sure all the players will be glad to be back, sleeping in their own beds. (And us recappers will appreciate games that don’t keep us up past midnight!)