I wrote on Wednesday morning that this has been one of the more frustrating seasons in recent memory to be a fan of the New York Islanders. That’s still true. But then they reward us, and themselves, with games like last night’s comeback victory over the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. They do always seem to get up for games against the Toronto Maple Leafs—for no particular reason I’m sure, he said while winking very obviously.
After back-to-back 5-2 losses, admittedly to the two best teams in the Pacific Division, the Islanders needed a stronger effort against Toronto. They got it, especially from Noah Dobson, who had assists on all four goals, and Mathew Barzal, who assisted on three of the goals and potted the fourth one in overtime. This year’s team MVPs do it again. Ilya Sorokin also played great, shutting the door after the Leafs scored their third of the game just a few minutes into the second period, which was good for his confidence according to his comrade. The Islanders hit the halfway mark at 19-12-10, a wild record that gives them 48 points and third place in the Metro with a razor-thin margin.
Tomorrow night, the Islanders visit the Nashville Predators and play in an arena where it feels like they’ve never won. They’ll also see old friend Barry Trotz for the first time in a professional setting since the Islanders cut him loose.
- A cathartic win, and two points in their pockets as they head out on another four-game road trip, this one to the frosty Midwest. [LHH]
- “The kid who won the Calder” notched another four-point night; he’s had a few of those this season. [NHL]
- The power play continues to look strong and come up big with two more goals tonight. Kyle Palmieri tallied 40 seconds into the game and nine seconds into the first power play, putting home a rebound of a Dobson shot. [3 Takeaways]
- Alex Romanov brought the Islanders back to life with a snipe to make it 3-2, and Bo Horvat tipped a Dobson shot for the team’s second power-play goal of the night and a tie score. [THN]
- Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe lamented their special teams play, calling it “rotten.” Hehe. [Sportsnet]
- Casey Cizikas is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Because it’s longer term, Lane Lambert had to shift his lines to put Barzal back at center, although he did take extra runs with Horvat and Anders Lee. [Isles DTD | amNY on Cizikas | amNY on line changes | Newsday]
- The line changes did appear to give the team a boost, to give credit to Lambert. [NY Post] They offered a bit of a wake-up call to a lineup that looked stale. [THN]
- “Mathew Barzal is the first player in NHL history to have multiple games in his career where he had at least three assists in regulation and then scored the winning goal in overtime. Barzal has done it twice this season (November 30th vs Carolina); they are only the 29th and 30th time it has ever happened—and the only time an Islander has done so.” [NYI Skinny]
- This one was on ESPN, and Barzal spoke with Emily Kaplan as the game’s first star.
Last night’s NHL scores featured some overtime games in the playoff race: The Lightning beat the Devils, and the Canucks beat the Penguins. Also, the Kraken topped the Capitals in regulation.
- Corey Perry is free to sign somewhere and play for an NHL team; he was never not allowed, as it turns out. The Edmonton Oilers ought to consider him, says this guy. [OilersNation]
- Connor Bedard had surgery on his jaw, meaning he’s out for six to eight weeks. [NHL]
- And Trevor Zegras, newly on the trade block, will probably come off it temporarily as he recovers for six to eight weeks, too; he has a broken ankle. [NHL]
- Edmonton hockey writer and radio personality Robin Brownlee passed away suddenly yesterday at age 65. [OilersNation]