The New York Islanders beat another opponent that has checked itself out of the wild card race, though it took a while on Saturday afternoon to pull ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for a 4-1 win.
Anders Lee had two of the Islanders’ four goals, which all came in the third period after the Red Wings had taken a lead in the final minute of the second.
Ilya Sorokin had a low-labor afternoon, but he did need to make a handful of high-quality stops among the 23 shots he faced.
That all combines for a 4-1-1 run for the Islanders, who hop back into the first wild card with 72 points but four more games played than the three pursuers below them. The Red Wings are pretty much no longer among that group, after selling off talent at the trade deadline, but today’s result puts them seven points back of the Isles.
[NHL Gamecenter | Game Summary | Event Summary | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]
#Isles in warmups— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) March 4, 2023
(Engvall's Isles debut)
First Period: High-tempo, zero goals
The game opened with good tempo and the Islanders asserting play, with no whistles until past five minutes. The Isles ended up outshooting the Wings 16-6 in the period, with the teams trading scoreless power plays.
It was Pierre Engvall’s Islanders debut, and he came as advertised, providing some speed and reach on a top line with Bo Horvat and Anders Lee: Not that he’s a go-to top-line guy, but he displayed a versatile mix of attributes to fill various slots as needed.
It wasn’t until almost nine minutes into the period that Ilya Sorokin faced his first shots, although they were pretty tough ones — and an unrecorded shot was stripped by Adam Pelech just in the nick of time when it looked like Lucas Raymond was about to deposit the puck into an empty net after a series of moves through the slot.
On the actual shots, one was from high in the slot and then the other followed an ugly turnover by Ryan Pulock, which Dominik [
sic] Kubalik turned into a point-blank chance. Pulock was trying to go D to D behind Sorokin’s net and didn’t spot Kubalik lurking. The Wings forward curled in front, but Sorokin got his leg pad down in time.
A little bit afterward, Noah Dobson was whistled for hooking, and the Wings power play moved the puck around well but only registered one shot.
Kyle Palmieri had one of the Islanders’ best chances of the period, simply forcing his way into what became a 2-on-1 down low. Bo Horvat also had a good chance in the slot, which was blocked, but he drew a penalty soon afterward.
The Islanders power play, with 90 seconds left in the first, didn’t produce a goal but had decent movement and some actual shot attempts (one officially reaching goal).
Second Period: Of course they did
The 30 remaining seconds of power play to open the second period yielded nothing. But the Islanders kept up the pressure, outshooting the Wings 9-1 in the period before Bo Horvat was called for a sketchy hooking penalty at the midway point.
That Wings power play didn’t produce anything, but it did seem to interrupt the Islanders momentum. The Red Wings got their best pressure late in the period, hemming in the Islanders top line — which had otherwise been really good — between the 17:00 and 18:00 minute mark and drawing a long delayed penalty on Horvat.
On the penalty kill, Casey Cizikas created an opportunity for Josh Bailey on a counterattack, and Bailey did great to create a high-danger look from the slot for himself...but he missed the net with his shot.
The Wings regrouped, set up in the Isles zone, and got on the board with a Dylan Larkin power play goal at 18:59, left free down low in front to beat Sorokin on the far side.
It was a tough turn, as the Islanders again controlled the majority of play throughout the period only to reach the second intermission trailing 1-0. Would it be one of those frustrating hockey afternoons...?
Third Period: THERE it is
It didn’t take long in the third for the game to go from one of those frustrating “are you kidding me?” goalie thefts to a very satisfying cruise to victory on a Saturday afternoon. Magnus Hellbert stopped the Islanders first 25 shots, only to concede four goals on 11 third-period shots.
Zach Parise got the equalizer just 2:11 into the period, jumping on a Kyle Palmieri rebound after Sebastian Aho made another play-driving rush into the zone. (Palmieri’s shot actually deflected off Aho, who continued to charge after gaining the line and passing to Palmieri.) It was opportunistic but also a really great heads-up, skilled play by Parise to read the rebound and get it on net from a sharp angle.
Just over two minutes later, Lee gave the Isles what felt like a deserved and surefire lead when he tipped in a Hudson Fasching shot following an offensive zone faceoff win.
The Wings put up a decent fight, with probably their best period, but there was a feeling of inevitability, confirmed when Palmieri deflected in a Noah Dobson shot on the power play. That came at 15:41 to make it 3-1.
PALMIERI DEFLECTS IT! pic.twitter.com/Rgdg9RFvHa— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 4, 2023
Putting the icing on the cake, Lee ripped a shot home coming down the left wing after a Larkin turnover.
THIS PLACE IS ROCKING pic.twitter.com/N4lcY3a0d4— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 4, 2023
The Islanders have another little gap in between games, with the next one coming Tuesday at home to the fellow wild card-chasing Sabres.