As soon as the puck dropped it was quite clear what team was in control of the game. The New York Islanders have been a force this season having won six previous games with three being 5-2 and gaining a seventh win tonight against the New Jersey Devils at a score of 5-3. The Islanders jumped onto the board with four unanswered goals between the first two periods, with the leading two goals scored in just over six minutes of each other. The third goal on the other hand was scored unusually as it was actually put it by New Jersey’s own player, Damon Severson.
It all started with a slap shot from the blueline by Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson that made its way to the net early in the second period. Right in front was Oliver Wahlstrom who was pushed into Devil’s goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood by defenseman Sami Vatanen. Both Wahlstrom and Blackwood fell down into the net, however the puck was still loose. Severson, hoping to come across and swipe the puck away from the goal line, accidentally poked it forward and into the back of the net. The referees were quick to call it a goal on the ice, while a confused Blackwood and Wahlstrom sat in the net. Believing it to be goalie interference, the New Jersey Devils challenged the play, however upon further review, the play was ruled a good goal as it had resulted from a defenseman on New Jersey knocking a player into their own goaltender with the puck then being pushed in. The Islanders not only found themselves at an unexpected three goal lead, but were given a powerplay opportunity from a delay of game penalty on New Jersey.
Even though the Islanders finished the game with a 5-3 win, that doesn’t cover up the fact they were 0-5 for the powerplay. They even faced a four minute double minor from a high stick by Ryan Murray on Casey Cizikas and could not use that time to their benefit.
When asked about what he’s seeing out of the Islanders’ powerplay, Coach Barry Trotz answered, “a little bit of both I think, some of it was a little bit of execution, some of it is not hitting our spots and not necessarily executing the game plan. That’s the number one, plus we haven’t had a lot of opportunities in the last while, so I think for the most part of you know, you get a little rusty when you’re not getting a lot of opportunities on it.”
Even if the Islanders haven’t seen much powerplay time in the past few games, five in one matchup, especially one they were so dominant in, should have prevailed with at least one goal. They finished with 34 shots on goal compared to New Jersey’s 21, and had puck possession for a large majority of the game. Moving forward you should hope to see the Islanders working on this part of their game since it resulted in five missed opportunities for them. Even when they faced their own penalty kill because of too many men on the ice, they seemed to be stronger shorthanded than they were with an extra skater. This is because they took the puck straight into New Jersey’s zone and got a two-on-one opportunity on Blackwood to which Devil’s Ty Smith blocked down on the ice.
Turning your attention to the New Jersey Devils, it is safe to say tonight was not their game. They were out played in the first two periods, gained some momentum beginning of the third, but lost it again for the remainder. When puck had dropped in the third, they showed a little life coming in with two back-to-back goals in under a minute. This 4-2 score did not last long however, as 41 seconds later Brock Nelson scored giving the Islanders a comfortable 5-2 lead. New Jersey needs to look to work on their defense as they could not remove the puck out of the zone and allowed too many two-on-ones and even a two-on-zero chance for the Islanders.
The one thing the Islanders did lose however was captain Anders Lee as he was injured in the first and did not return for the rest of the game. There was no update given on his condition and it is unknown if he will be back in the next game against the New Jersey Devils once again this Saturday at 7 pm. With the Islanders having won three out of the four matchups this season, I would bet they could do it once more this Saturday. However, the score may be a little closer with New Jersey coming in with some more determination to not repeat last night’s game.