As Mat Barzal said in his postgame interview with Shannon Hogan, it’s been a rough few weeks for the New York Islanders. But with strong performances in back to back games from Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, they now have two wins in a row.
Kyle Palmieri’s return from injury has been a bright spot, as he seems to just make things happen when he’s on the ice right now, combining well with Brock Nelson and Anders Lee.
The power play is still atrociously bad, now sub-5%, though they only had one opportunity tonight, anyway.
But goals from Anders Lee and Mat Barzal would be enough to win the game, as the Islanders head into an All-Star Game related bye week to give (just about) everyone a solid rest.
The Islanders had a pretty dominant first period, shots-wise, though the best chance came later in the period with a really good shot Kyle Palmieri couldn’t get past Logan Thompson.
Mat Barzal made a great pass to Anthony Beauvillier, who shot the puck right into Thompson.
Mostly, it seemed like these teams switched personalities, as it was the away team relying on a great goaltending performance to keep things even.
With under a minute left in the period, Alex Romanov blocked a Phil Kessel shot with his face, and he was rushed off the ice with a towel on his face.
Romanov came back, looking, as Thomas Hickey noted on the broadcast, a little bit like The Joker with his mouth injury.
The Isles headed to the power play after Brett Howden was called for tripping, but Vegas killed the penalty after shots from Brock Nelson and Zach Parise were saved by Thompson.
Shortly after the power play, Anders Lee made it 1-0 - Palmieri did most of the work, but got taken down while driving to the net. The puck made its way to Lee, who scored from his office, continuing his hot streak.
THE CAPTAIN gets us on the board pic.twitter.com/Ty9fV9UH6q— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) January 29, 2023
William Carrier drew a penalty after beating out Scott Mayfield and Alex Romanov to the puck, and so Mayfield went to the box for hooking.
Semyon Varlamov made a save of the year candidate on the Vegas power play, robbing noted Islander killer Reilly Smith.
Palmieri nearly made it 2-0 with a shot he took while Logan Thompson was out of position, but it hit Alec Martinez in the crease.
The Islanders were again on the penalty kill after Barzal was called for slashing, and the Isles killed it, with Varlamov making some more good saves.
However, Vegas would tie the game at one apiece off a Carrier goal, as Chandler Stephenson was able to make a great pass from behind the net that found him right in front.
Aatu Raty had a good shot saved by Thompson off a Josh Bailey pass. Varlamov made a great save on Paul Cotter, and Vegas was pushing this period, dominating for long stretches.
Varlamov was forced to be sharp, turning away 17 shots in the third period, while the Islanders only managed 6 of their own. Kyle Palmieri had a great chance to make it 2-1 while on a breakaway, but was hounded from behind (and maybe a stricter ref would have called a penalty) but he lost the handle on the puck.
Varlamov’s effort would help send the team to overtime, securing at least a point.
Just 26 seconds in, William Carrier got a penalty shot, after Adam Pelech took him down on a breakaway. Not sure this call made that much sense vs it just being a regular power play, but that might have been for the best, since Varlamov came up huge with a save.
VARLAMOV MAKES THE CLUTCH PENALTY SAVE IN OT pic.twitter.com/O1gPs7AYpb— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) January 29, 2023
This was a pretty back and forth OT, though Vegas had the best looks - a Jack Eichel shot saved by Varlamov, and a 2 on 0 opportunity that Palmieri was able to slide to break up the pass.
But then, Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier got the puck into the zone, and Beauvillier gave the puck back to Barzal, who opted not to take a one time shot and instead waited, firing a laser past Thompson to win the game, 2-1.
BARZAL WINS IT IN OVERTIME‼️ pic.twitter.com/dCSm2gcHuG— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) January 29, 2023
Next, the Islanders enjoy over a week off, though Brock Nelson and Ilya Sorokin will be heading to Florida for the All-Star Game next weekend. The next game back will be in Philadelphia, as the Islanders take on the Flyers on February 6th. Glad they could go into this bye week with two wins in a row!