At long last, the New York Islanders have again won a game in regulation.
No extra time or shootout needed, and not even a blown lead (though they tried). It was against “just” the Philadelphia Flyers, however the Flyers have been on a good run, and Wednesday’s 3-2 win ended the Flyers’ five-game win streak.
For the Islanders, it’s also eight straight home wins over the Flyers, who once had their number back when their current GM was a mostly effective player driven to periodic fits of madness by Frans Nielsen.
This has been a weird season, with the Islanders gaining a healthy dose of early points despite playing poorly and blowing a lot of points this month when they were otherwise playing okay-ish. The season is destined to conclude with some kind of frustration, surely, and they have yet to show their former lockdown identity when holding a third-period lead.
But at least on Thanksgiving Eve, they sent everyone into their family gatherings on a high note.
The Isles got on the board early, from a guy who needs it, when Anders Lee jammed a puck in at the near post just 1:49 into the game.
They even doubled that lead midway through the second, when Brock Nelson redirected an Adam Pelech speculative volley from the point; however, they gave that one back just over a minute later.
Heading into the third period, there was much anxiety, at least among fans. But the Isles softened that anxiety when Nelson notched his second of the game, an easy redirection after a great pull-up move and pass by Pierre Engvall.
Engvall was active all night and his performance encapsulates the dilemma for Isles fans right now: Engvall is pretty good! He’s doing good things! Seven-year contract good? Not so sure, but, well, I mean, the Islanders have definitely constructed a roster that you could be confident should be a team that claws its way to the playoffs each year.
If that’s your goal.
Anyway, for a team that has struggled to hang on to third-period leads — and that is putting it charitably — it was not a banner third period. But they got the job done.
They gave up a goal to Joel Farabee with just over four minutes left to make it interesting, and they squandered multiple attempts at an empty-net goal — including Cal Clutterbuck, in his 1,000th NHL game — and they were outshot 14-4 in the third period.
But they got the job done.
And maybe their luck has turned a little bit, as there were some hairy moments after the lead fell back to one goal, some situations where a bounce the other way could’ve ended up yet another blown lead and tie game.
Tonight, mercifully, in front of the home fans, that did not happen.
After U.S. Thanksgiving, the Islanders are in Ottawa on Friday, then back home Saturday to face the Flyers again. Yeah, I don’t get that either.