Islanders Slow Start Still Inhibiting Their Game

Bri Repetto

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The Islanders managed to pull out a double-overtime win in game five against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but not without their usual mishaps. A pattern of early goals by Pittsburgh continues to occur early on and cause the Islanders to stumble behind as they try to cover lost ground. In turn, the Isles struggled to dominate in much of game five.

In fact, the whole second period was a bust for the Islanders even as they came out of it only down by one while recording just four shots on goal. Additionally, goalie Ilya Sorokin was relentlessly peppered on net by the Penguins with 20 shots in the middle frame. Time and time again, we see that these factors add up to a diminishing game. Being in the playoffs, their inconsistent factors need to rectify quickly. 

“I just thought that they established their game quicker than we did and I just thought they were spot on their game early and we weren’t…,”  said head coach Barry Trotz in an interview on MSG Networks after the game.

Comparing the recent matchup to game four, the Islanders prevented Pittsburgh from scoring early and first, unlike they did in games two and three. They took the lead in the second where they not only went up by one but two goals to establish themselves for the third. The momentum only carried on with another two goals in the third. Even with a late goal by Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese, they defeated the Penguins 4-1. That being said, the Islanders need to pick up the pace and have a greater sense of urgency.

The team’s skill players have to step up more and create more high danger opportunities that we saw them make in the regular season once more. For instance, the Islanders continue to lack shots on goal. However, it doesn’t always cost them as they’re able to capitalize on their limited opportunities with puck movement and smart shooting. 

“We knew we’d have to be really good tonight and we didn’t have enough guys good enough tonight,” Trotz added. “To get this game four against the Penguins, you’re going to need everyone to bring their A-game for obviously game six and if we do that, then we have a chance.”

Josh Bailey finally seized the opportunity, scoring on Penguins’ goaltender Tristan Jarry in double OT to win their third game of the series by intercepting a pass from the goaltender himself, then and capitalizing on the turnover. The Isles took a 3-2 series lead thanks to Ilya Sorokin, and Bailey’s overtime heroics, and bring New York within one game of moving on in the series.  

When the Islanders control the pace, there is no doubt that they can give Jarry a run for his money. That strategy has been somewhat fleeting in the beginning games during this early playoff run. And with one win left to catapult them into the next round, game six needs to begin with a strong start.

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