There was a moment in the third period Thursday at UBS Arena where it looked like it was going to be one of those Ilya Sorokin Show kind of nights. The New York Islanders goalie had just made another acrobatic save — on another poorly run Islanders power play — and the crowd was chanting his name while the Isles continued into the Minnesota Wild zone — where you’re supposed to be with a man advantage — carrying a 1-0 lead with nine minutes to go.
Instead, at the next stoppage, a video review showed that Sorokin’s glove stop of Frederick Gaudreau’s shot carried over the line (and the razor-close Wild zone entry that preceded it was clearly onside), so the game was tied, 1-1.
We'll take that ☝️#mnwild pic.twitter.com/RVKkaMlFKX— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 13, 2023
Then, 93 godforsaken seconds later, the Wild were up 2-1. The Isles turned the puck over and were slow to recover as Sam Steel converted a quick passing play in a flash.
Consider the momentum: shifted #mnwild pic.twitter.com/NPvycQxVWP— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) January 13, 2023
An empty net goal from Kirill Kaprizov finished the job, as a building that was preparing to celebrate fell into silence.
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You maybe wouldn’t guess it from the shot chart (7-4 Wild in the first), but the Islanders actually got a good start for the second game in a row. It was an odd but free-flowing first period, with the Isles getting a couple of shots on target early and late, but both teams getting chances — though often missing the net — throughout the period.
The Isles started on their toes, but nothing spoils a good start like a terrible power play. Just 90 seconds into the game, Jake Middleton took a puck-over-the-glass penalty and the Isles power play went right to work killing their early momentum.
Still, the Isles were playing well, and Scott Mayfield’s lucky goal on a ToskaLOL-esque bounce at 16:49 didn’t feel undeserved.
What a shot. pic.twitter.com/JJwIUiTrCt— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 13, 2023
He was called for the Isles’ first penalty a minute later, but the home team killed that off and reached the first intermission with the lead.
Second period shots were 17-10 for the Wild and produced no goals from either side but perhaps laid the groundwork for disappointment: The Isles went to the box again and again, with Sorokin doing most of the work to kill all three Isles penalties (plus one off-setting call).
Sorokin again pic.twitter.com/an1YfrNBjO— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) January 13, 2023
The lone Islanders power play of the period was a predictable waste.
It gets so frustrating watching other teams come in and manage the puck and chances on their power play with destabilizing creativity, while the Isles power play is hesitant and moves the puck around like an average high school team.
Anyway, the Isles were still in the driver seat, right? They were up 1-0, and Sorokin was in form.
It sure felt that way, until Jonas Brodin took a penalty at 10:00, and the Islanders power play once again did what the Islanders power play does: Kick puppies, steal souls and ruin otherwise pleasant evenings.
Lambert: ‘Right now, the way things are going, these mistakes are costing us’
Lane Lambert Postgame Media Availability pic.twitter.com/tVqbLQd1YB— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 13, 2023
But That Was Fun At Least
The Giants line showed up in support...and occasionally disrobed:
BIG MOOD. pic.twitter.com/pYSXQJygR1— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 13, 2023
Butch supports the officials:
“That’s good to know...that you can agree with the ref.”
>>AJ Mleczko, to Butch Goring, after both of them and Brendan Burke reversed their initial impression of an interference call on Mayfield
Butch: “Every once in a while...what is it they say about a blind squirrel finding an acorn?”
In depressing contrast to the events on Long Island, across town the Rangers tied their game against the Stars in the final second, then went on to win in OT.
The “easiest” game of this homestand comes Saturday when the Canadiens visit. They better not screw that one up, as the Bruins and Capitals lurk on the other side.