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Islanders 4, Sharks 1: 4 P’s show the way through San Jose

Pageau, Palmieri, Pulock and Parise deliver must-have points, while Sorokin does his thing.

New York Islanders v San Jose Sharks
Had to have it, got it.
Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Islanders completed a successful California road trip by beating the San Jose Sharks handily, 4-1, taking four of a possible six points from a rare late-season swing out West.

With the Penguins being slaughtered by some Smurfs in Manhattan and the Panthers winning to continue breathing down the wild card holders’ necks, it was an essential, must-win for the Isles. It vaults them back above Pittsburgh in the first wild card slot, and it keeps them three points ahead of the Panthers. Both Pittsburgh and Florida have two games in hand.

Facing a 31st-ranked team that has one win since the trade deadline, the Islanders really had to get two points, and they took care of business convincingly after a slow start. The win sends the Sharks to a winless sweep of their four-game homestand.

There were boos from the home crowd at the end, but even those were half-hearted, as presumably everyone accepts they’re all in for lottery position.

[NHL Gamecenter | Game Summary | Event Summary | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

The win was not without a price, however: Sebastian Aho left the game in the first after a high hit by Kevin Lebanc, who caught Aho while he was already being pursued by another Shark:

The Sharks got on the board first, through a lethal top-corner Lebanc shot, but the Islanders asserted more control of play and they got the all-important equalizer in the first period on a J-G Pageau shorthanded tally. That came on the Sharks’ only power play of the first period, whereas the Isles had three (and didn’t score, of course).

It was a beauty by Pageau, blowing around a very passive Erik Karlsson:

The Isles took the lead and kept it for good with a couple of power play-like goals. The first one was at even strength, but it was a great connection with Scott Mayfield, who slid a leading shot along the ice that was timed perfectly for the arrival of Kyle Palmieri, who redirected it in.

That was just 2:18 into the second period, and the Isles extended the lead shortly afterward with Lebanc in the box for cross-checking Noah Dobson. The insurance goal came via classic Ryan Pulock cannon, at 5:24, set up by Hudson Fasching getting some power play time and not looking out of place.

Ilya Sorokin did not have a very busy night facing 30 shots, but he did make some outstanding saves to keep the Sharks at bay as the Islanders took and steadily built their lead over the next two periods. Most notable was a patient stop on a William Eklund breakaway after Erik Karlsson sprung the Sharks forward with a rare Pelech-eluding pass. That preserved a comfortable two-goal lead.

The Isles added to the margin early in the third with a nice Zach Parise deflection of an Alex Romanov shot. Parise’s 18th of the season — seriously, they’re paying league minimum to a tireless, smart vet who’s approaching 20 goals — concluded scoring at 5:10.

Up Next

The Islanders return home from the trip and host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, before a traveling back-to-back next weekend in Columbus and home to Buffalo.

Just 11 games to go, some against fierce opponents and some against some pushovers.