photo credit: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images
Riding a seven-game point streak, the New York Islanders went into Buffalo with no other mentality and goal than to make it eight. After defeating the Sabres comfortably less than twenty-four hours prior, New York had to stay on a roll and continue this hot stretch of play.
Showing no signs of fatigue or slowing down, the Isles outplayed Buffalo early on. Their forechecking was solid, and the defense shut down as usual. Young phenom goaltender Ilya Sorokin stood on his head.
They were rewarded for this, and 4:53 into the first period, Anders Lee scored his sixth goal of the season on a beautiful feed from Noah Dobson. Dobson and Josh Bailey each earned their sixth assists of the season. Lee now has goals in his last two games and points in his last three. The Isles were not done yet, however. After killing Adam Pelech’s holding penalty, and 11:58 into the first, Jean-Gabriel Pageau extended his goal streak to four games and tallied his sixth of the season. Ryan Pulock picked up his 6th assist of the season and Nick Leddy his seventh. At the end of the first twenty minutes of play, New York had a 2-0 lead over the Buffalo.
There was no scoring in the second frame. However, the Islanders did not play their best hockey and only registered five shots on goal compared to Buffalo’s three. As we advance, the Isles will need to take advantage in these periods and spend less time in their own end. Regardless, Buffalo only had limited chances, and Sorokin was lights out.
Throughout this game, New York relied on Sorokin quite a bit to keep Buffalo off the score sheet, especially in the third period. Sorokin made some acrobatic saves and got the job done with no hiccups. Having never played a game in North America until January and moving here last July, this performance speaks to his dedication and work ethic.
The Isles once again did not play their prettiest hockey period of hockey in the third but were able to shut down the Sabres and score the lone goal of the period. At 19:59 into the third, Isles captain Anders Lee netted his second goal of the game into Buffalo’s empty net. 12:24 into the third, Adam Pelech went to the box again for slashing Taylor Hall. Victor Olofsson scored on the power play, but Isles head coach Barry Trotz challenged the play for offsides, and it did turn out that Buffalo captain Jack Eichel was well offside. The goal was taken away, and Sorokin’s shutout stood.
By no means is Islander hockey flashy, but it will consistently grab two points. New York now sits in second place in the MassMutual East Division, currently on an eight-game point streak. It is all falling into place, and the young guys are learning what it takes to be successful at this level, with the veterans leading the way.
The Isles travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins once again on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Eastern Time.