Islanders Edge: Isles’ solid showing earns them 5th straight victory
(PHOTO CREDIT: AP)
The injection of youth seems to be a huge difference-maker for the New York Islanders. Since the arrival of Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, and highly regarded Russian goaltender Ilya Sorokin, the Isles have undoubtedly improved. This will also be the case when names such as Samuel Bolduc, Bode Wilde, Robin Salo, Simon Holmstrom, and Anatoly Golyshev make appearances with the team. Playing the Buffalo Sabres for the third straight time on Sunday, the Isles looked to have a better start than the one put forth in the first minutes of their game less than twenty-four hours prior, in a 5-2 victory over the same sorry Sabres. On national television for “Hockey Day In America,” the Isles could open a lot of eyes and impress a lot of people.
Yet to lose a game in regulation time on home ice, New York looked to protect “Fort Neverlose” and improve to 10-0-2 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
In the first period, both teams went scoreless. A tight defensive game left little ice to work with for both sides. New York outshot Buffalo 8-6 but had areas of their game that needed to be improved before period two. 18:53 into the first, Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was sent to the penalty box for interfering with Oliver Wahlstrom.
The second period was a different story than the first. Buffalo killed off the penalty, but 5:13 into the period, Isles captain Anders Lee tallied his twelfth goal of the season. Jordan Eberle (7) and Noah Dobson (9) were credited assists. Less than a minute later, Brock Nelson notched his eighth goal of the season. Oliver Wahlstrom (5) and Nick Leddy (15) picked up assists.
Hungry for more, the Isles looked for a cushion headed into intermission. Casey Cizikas netted his fourth goal of the season on assists from Jean-Gabriel Pageau (7) and Adam Pelech (6) 16:56 in.
Headed into the third period, New York took their foot off the gas once again. This common theme cannot continue, especially as we advance to playoff time. Buffalo capitalized on New York’s slow start. 5:41 into the final regulation frame, Jeff Skinner, wrapped the puck around the net, fooled Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield, and beat Isles goaltender Ilya Sorokin with a top-shelf backhand. Curtis Lazar (7) and Casey Mittlestadt (3) picked up assists. Still sluggish, New York gave Colin Miller a wonderful walk-in chance in which he capitalized. Sorokin let in a bit of a softy and needs to stop that shot, which he would most of the time. Jack Eichel (16) and Taylor Hall (12) assisted Miller’s third goal of the 2021 campaign. This went from a 3-0 game to a 3-2 game in a matter of minutes.
From the Miller goal, New York finally woke up. Cal Clutterbuck broke free from the Sabres defense and deked out goaltender Jonas Johansson for his third goal of the season. Matt Martin (4) had the lone assist on the goal. The time of the goal was 12:57 into the third period.
Down 4-2, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger pulled Johansson. 17:48 in, Ryan Pulock got the puck to Nelson, who easily found the empty net and scored his second goal of the game. This was Nelson’s ninth goal of the season and Pulock’s tenth assist. In all three games in this stretch against Buffalo, New York won 5-2. They are now riding a five-game win streak, and in that time, are outscoring opponents 19-7.
Sorokin did his job, despite allowing a softy. He came up with some huge saves and is improving by the game. The Islanders will need to patch up a few things in the future but overall are in a great place.
The boys in blue and orange look to grow their win streak to six on Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins, with puck drop set for 7:00 PM Eastern Time at the Coliseum.