The New York Islanders continued their tour of the desert with hopes for a second win, but it just wasn’t happening Saturday night in Vegas.
Third-time all-star Mat Barzal tied the game at 1-1 in the first period a few minutes after Jack Eichel opened scoring with an uncontested shot from the slot — a play where Barzal seemed to be the only one in the building who realized the puck crossed the line, as play continued before a lengthy review.
But two Golden Knights goals late in the second period created ominous separation, and a failed coach’s challenge for goalie interference on that second one (which made it 3-1) set up a power play that the Knights converted 31 seconds into the third to make it 4-1.
Matt Martin (!) brought it back to 4-2 a couple of minutes later with the 79th regular season goal of his NHL career, but Nicolas Roy restored the three-goal lead less than two minutes later. Still, Martin’s was a classic Martin kind of goal:
Matt finds the back of the net! pic.twitter.com/1lKLBTkoi9— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 7, 2024
Roy completed scoring with his second goal late in the third.
In one bit of good news, the Islanders survived an injury scare to Casey Cizikas who bounced off an attempted check of Tobias Bjornfot on the opening shift and went head-first into the boards. He’ll probably be feeling that for a few days, but he was able to return after being helped off the ice.
Ilya Sorokin, who continues to have just an okay season, gave up five goals on 29 Vegas shots. This is not a complaint about Sorokin...but one of the assumptions coming into the season was Vezina-caliber play from the Isles #1, and he’s just not provided that level nearly as much as expected. Semyon Varlamov’s injury makes that a little more important, since during normal, healthy times Varlamov is able to provide a great 1A and even a challenge to Ilya for ice time.
The Islanders make the long haul home for a couple of tough games on Long Island, with visits from the Canucks on Tuesday and the Leafs on Thursday.