clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Islanders 6, Lightning 2: This is a new team

The Islanders are healthy, fired up under a new coach, and playing better hockey. Fans are ecstatic. This could get fun.

NHL: FEB 08 Lightning at Islanders
Guys are happy.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the New York Islanders closed out a convincing, dominating 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, crowd chants of “Pat-rick-Roy! Pat-rick-Roy!” rang throughout their home rink on Long Island.

The love for the Isles’ new coach is real, fueled by a combination of his perspective on the game (fortunately applied to the team with immediate effects) and his willingness to talk about it openly.

Roy set about changing how the Islanders play right away, and what’s more, he hasn’t acted like his approach is a state secret. His post-games and morning skate pressers are six minutes of fun talk worth more than four hours of sports talk radio (if sports talk radio south of the 49th parallel discussed hockey).

Anyway, the Isles laid waste to the Lightning. Yes, the Bolts were playing on a back-to-back (though without real travel), and they may be reeling from the jarring, season-ending injury to Mikhail Sergachev. But the Isles came to play, the Lightning looked listless, and there was a party at the World’s Most Famous’ Race Track’s Arena.

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

Casey Cizikas was back (more on that later), but it was Noah Dobson and J-G Pageau, with an uncredited assist to Simon Holmstrom, who generated the first goal early in the first period.

For a moment, the ESPN play-by-play crew — not the most astute bunch — thought the goal was Oliver Wahlstrom, but it went in off a Lightning foil before Wahlstrom had a chance to whack it in.

Nikita Kucherov tied the game at 1-1 a couple minutes later, but late in the period the Islanders got two goals that matched the direction the game was heading. Mat Barzal scored off a faceoff, on a lethal backhand off the near post.

Kyle Palmieri added one after being stopped on a one-timer, then finishing down low on a great feed from Mike Reilly, who pinched below the goal line.

The Isles had outshot the Lightning, 14-3.

Although the Lightning pulled to within one on a power play early in the second, the Isles restored their two-goal lead on a power play of their own, with Ryan Pulock just bombing an uncontested 91 mph shot from the point.

With a two-goal lead, Barzal and Bo Horvat had some time exchanging pucks and circling the zone, with Horvat finishing from high to make it 5-2 as Anders Lee’s screen cast a skyscraper shadow. The goal definitely called into question the performance of Tampa goalie Jonas Johansson, but it was one of many Isles chances while the Lightning got nothing.

Making a triumphant return, Casey Cizikas completed scoring with under five minutes left in the second, intercepting a laughably hopeful blind Brayden Point pass from the sideboards. It looked like Cizikas was trying to shoot high and misfired to beat Johansson low, but whatever.

It was 6-2 for the Isles at the second intermission, and they were outshooting Tampa 21-10. The game was over. The third period was a formality.

Cheers to the New Guy

Up Next

Are we having fun yet? I don’t know how the Isles will end up, but they are jacked up under the new coach, and they are playing far more competent defense — refreshing in itself.

They’ll next put it on display Saturday afternoon when the Flames visit.