There’s something in the air, folks. There is some sort of magic in this team’s bones. There is belief in one another. They’re almost never out of a game, even when they don’t deserve to still be in it.
And last night, the New York Islanders pulled off yet another multi-goal comeback, once again doing it to the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom they swept in the regular season for the first time in 50 years of playing them.
Hudson Fasching and Casey Cizikas continued their chemistry together, with Fasching getting the rally going. Captain Anders Lee has been an absolute monster against Pittsburgh this season, scoring another two goals, including the game-tying goal. And Brock Nelson, man, you almost knew what was coming when he got that breakaway against Tristan Jarry. How about Ilya Sorokin, too, who looked a little shaky early on but recovered nicely by the end and Billy Smith’d his way to a primary assist on the winner?
The Islanders were going well as they entered an eight-day stretch in which they would play four teams they were battling for wild-card position. All they’ve done so far is take six of the available six points, conceding only one.
It’s amazing what they have been able to do without Mathew Barzal. I was worried the season was basically done when he went out, but they responded by tightening their structure and playing the 1-1-3 that made them so successful. They did not maintain their structure very well last night—the Penguins dominated most of the game, frankly—yet they pulled out a thrilling win.
Tomorrow night, they host the Washington Capitals, who aren’t fully out of the race, but who did wave the white flag by selling off last week and are now a decent ways back. With a regulation win, the Islanders can truly stick a fork in them. Then, they head out to California.
About last night:
- You simply have to laugh. The hope never died out, even as the game got below the 6:00 mark with the Isles still trailing by two. [LHH]
- Of their three third-period comebacks over the Pens, this was probably the most “jaw-dropping.” [NY Post]
- When it comes to playing the Penguins, it’s nice having Lee, Nelson, and Sorokin on your side. [3 Takeaways]
- Especially if you don’t play well the first two periods of the game—they helped keep the Isles in it. [Newsday]
- And they have the “belief” that they’re always in a game. That goes a long way. [amNY]
- I had been saying the same thing from the couch that they later said in the locker room: They “just needed one,” and anything was possible. Fasching and Cizikas combined to get there. [NYI Hockey Now]
- The Islanders have won 16(!) games this season when trailing at some point. Also, Sorokin’s assist was his first career point. Lots of fun tidbits in here. [NYI Skinny]
- Rare for the social media administrator to get cheeky, but we love to see it.
- The playoffs still aren’t a guarantee, but that win did wonders for their chances of not only qualifying but remaining in the hunt for the 7-seed. [NY Post]
- Pierre Engvall was benched most of the third period against the Sabres on Tuesday, but he understood why, not yet knowing the structure. [amNY]
- But then he barely played last night, as well. Seems that he’s having some trouble adjusting, but it has been only three games. [Newsday]
- On the other end of the spectrum is the rise of Hudson Fasching—and this article was posted before he scored again last night. [Newsday]
- This day in Isles history: the greatest deadline deal of them all. Butch Goring was acquired on March 10, 1980, in exchange for Dave Lewis and Billy Harris. [Islanders] Lewis spoke with the team about being on the other end of that deal. [Islanders]
- The Syosset Public Library has a long-running podcast, and this episode featured Bryan Trottier talking about his new book, All Roads Home. [Turn the Page]
- Also, the Rangers beat the Canadiens in the shootout, with Patrick Kane picking up his first two points as a Ranger, including his first goal. But that goal came immediately after he gave away a shorthanded goal. [NHL]
- Wild star forward Kirill Kaprizov will be out for 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury, which is good news considering what the play looked like. [NHL]
- Elliotte Friedman wraps up the trade deadline in written form. [32 Thoughts]