Islanders Edge: Eberle on a roll, Isles end losing streak
photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
All good things come to an end, but do all bad things? For the New York Islanders, on Saturday, this question was answered.
The answer was yes.
10:22 into the first period, Jordan Eberle opened up scoring. Michael Dal Colle tallied his first assist of the season, and Noah Dobson his fifth. 3:21 later, Pierre-Oliver Joseph tied the score at 1-1, Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang both picked up their fourth assists on the year. At 15:45 into the first frame, Jordan Eberle cleaned up a rebound and put it past Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry for his second of the night. Brock Nelson recorded his second assist of the year, and Michael Dal Colle picked up another assist. The Isles went into the dressing room after twenty-minutes of play with a 2-1 lead. In period two, both teams exchanged some chances.
Michael Dal Colle continued to stand out, and the second line remained the main source of opportunity for the Isles. Though the period was evenly matched, Evgeni Malkin tied the contest at two 19:44 in. Kasperi Kapanen was awarded the assist. The beginning of the third period did not look good at all for New York. Jake Guentzel scored 3:19 on feeds from Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust, giving the Pens their first lead of the night (3-2). It took some time, but the Isles found their step. The fourth line did fourth line things, leading to Cal Clutterbuck tying the game 9:23 in. Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin both picked up their first assists of the season. It looked good from there. The Isles played a solid period and were rewarded with a power-play with less than five minutes remaining in regulation time. 17:16 in, Anders Lee used his long reach to clean up a rebound in Jarry’s crease. Ryan Pulock and Mathew Barzal were credited with assists. This was far and away the most productive power play the Isles have had in some time. If they move the puck as well as they did tonight, the power-play will shift from a weakness to a strength. The Isles tightened it up defensively and finished the job in the final two minutes, sealing the deal on a much needed and deserved 4-3 victory.
Despite not getting on the score sheet, Oliver Wahlstrom was noticeable tonight. Michael Dal Colle found his game and will be a key piece moving forward on the second line if he’s consistent with his play. Semyon Varlamov came up with some huge saves. Islanders head coach Barry Trotz moves to third all-time on the head coaches win list, tied with the legendary Ken Hitchcock at 849 wins. Trotz’s Isles improve to 4-4-2 on the year and have 10 points. The Isles and Penguins are separated by one point, and New York holds one game in hand. Have the Isles finally found their groove? Are they about to get hot? Some signs point that way, but their next match is against a tough opponent in a similar situation. They will need to bring nothing less than their A-game to “the world’s most famous arena” at the start of next week.
For now, the Isles are back on track and look to stay in the win column on Monday against their rival Rangers at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Eastern Time.