4/27 - NYI vs. WSH:
The Islanders headed to Washington with hopes of salvaging the 3 game set with the Washington Capitals after a disappointing end to the week. Both sides had a 2 day break so there should have been absolutely no reason why the Islanders could not be on their toes. Ilya Sorokin took to the cage for a seemingly surprise start with Semyon Varlamov being held out of the lineup due to soreness. It would not take long for the Capitals to open the scoring as just 1:29 into the first as Daniel Sprong took the puck away in the corner and was allowed to walk directly into the slot and rip it past a sliding Ilya Sorokin. For the second straight game the Capitals would get the first goal of the game with their first shot on goal. Orlov and Wilson were credited with the assists and their Capitals picked up the 1-0 early lead. Other than the first goal Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin seemed locked in as the Islanders were out shot 10-7 in the first but they were heavily outplayed in that period. The second period would go without a goal and the Islanders needed to bring desperation mode into the 3rd period or else they were in trouble. After being outshot 10-7 in period 1 and 13-5 in period 2 the Islanders were getting completely outplayed,outshot,and outworked. The 3rd period was just as bad as the first 2 for New York as they had an absolutely putrid period 3 and they were shut out by a final score of 1-0 after such a good game featuring 32/33 saves made for Ilya Sorokin. They were outshot 33-18 in the game in what I can only say was oddly similar to game 7 in Washington during round 1 of the 2015 playoffs.
4/29 - NYI vs. WSH
It is starting to get into desperation time for the New York Islanders, close to pushing the panic button. Even their 4th line who is supposed to generate energy for the team just could not get it going even against a Capitals team who was lacking their star player Alex Ovechkin. Semyon Varlamov would make his return to the pipes after missing a game due to injury as the Islanders looked to put the Rangers’ playoff hopes on life support. Just 6:27 into period 1 Leo Komarov would break the Islanders goalless streak with a snipe to the left side of Igor Shesterkin. The Islanders finally had a lead for the first time in 3 games. Eberle and Leddy were credited with assists on the play in what I'm sure is a relieving moment for the Islanders. Oliver Wahlstrom would waste no time adding another goal ending his more than 10 game goalless drought by ripping a powerplay goal on a tremendous wrist shot. The Islanders had a commanding 2-0 lead after one period of play in which they shut down the strong Rangers offense while generating chances of their own. Just 1:03 into period 2 the Islanders would continue to pile it on the hapless Rangers, this time it was Anthony Beauvillier getting on the scoresheet with his 3rd goal in the last 5 games. Beauvllier has owned the Rangers this season and he has owned them in his career as well. Mayfield and Nelson each picked up an assist on the play with that being the second of the night for center Brock Nelson. Neither side would record any other goals besides the Beauvillier tally sending us to the third period with the Islanders playing their strongest game in a long long time. The Islanders went back to the chip and chase game to lock down a lead in the final period which is a method that has brought them so much success in the past few years and the playoffs. Mathew Barzal would head to the penalty box for boarding and the Islanders would need their penalty kill to come through to save the shutout for their star goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The Islanders would kill the penalty 2 men down as Shesterkin went to the bench down by 3 and on the powerplay with hopes of the Rangers playoff hopes staying alive, while this game would not have eliminated them it surely would put a dent in their hopes. The penalty expired shutout intact and Scott Mayfield would find Mathew Barzal out of the penalty box and he would make no mistake burning the empty netter for his first goal in over 10 games. Scott Mayfield would pick up his second assist of the game as the Islanders now took a 4-0 lead, the lead could have been much larger by this point with the Islanders hitting the post at least 3 times in period 3. The time would expire as the Islanders defeat the Rangers by a final score of 4-0. The Rangers playoff hopes are now seriously dwindling and hopefully the Islanders can use this momentum to take that style of play into the playoffs. The Islanders have now outscored the Rangers 10-1 in the last 2 games between the two, meaning Shesterkin has given up 4, 5, and 6 goals in starts against the Islanders this season. This win greatly improved the Islanders playoff situation with the chance to clinch on Saturday with the Rangers making their final trip to the Nassau Coliseum.
5/1 - NYI vs. NYR:
As the calendar turned to the month of May,the Islanders had the chance to clinch a playoff post over their rival New York Rangers. The Islanders were looking to win their final meeting with the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum and they needed the 2 points but not as much as the New York Rangers needed them. The Isles would waste no time getting on the scoresheet as Anthony Beauvillier got one past Alexandar Georgiev who has owned the Islanders over the course of his career. Bailey and Leddy would pick up assists on the tallie with the Islanders picking up the lead. Just around 12 minutes later Mathew Barzal would enter his name on the scoresheet extending the lead to 2-0 in favor of the boys from Long Island. The assist would come from Josh Bailey. The score would stay the same as the Islanders dominated the first fram and in the process they buried 2 goals past their kryptonite of Alexander Georgiev. The Islanders could have scored more than just the 2 by Beauvillier and Barzal but a 2 goal first period is just what the doctor ordered. Anthony Beauvillier would waste no time burying his second of the game just over a minute into period 2. Beauvillier has just terrorized the Rangers through his career thus far and another 2 goals tonight shows just how well he plays in big game situations. Nobody else would crack the scoresheet in period 2 meaning the Islanders just had to hold onto a 3-0 lead for 2 more minutes to punch their ticket to the playoffs. The third period was a solid period for the Islanders as Semyon Varlamov shut the door on anything the Rangers threw at him recording his 3rd consecutive shutout breaking the club record which he previously owned from last year's playoffs. He has now shutout the Rangers in back to back games and for the fourth time this season. With the wind and the shutout by Varlamov the Islanders became the 3rd team in the MassMutual East Division to clinch a playoff spot and for the final time the Islanders have clinched a playoff spot on home ice. Overall it was an exceptional effort from the Islanders with Anthony Beauvillier and Semyon Varlamov but a 3 assist game from Josh Bailey is a promising sign. If the offense can keep rolling like they are now I have a good feeling heading into these playoffs.
The week recapped:
In what was a week shaping up to be a disaster of a week for the Islander they bounced back strong with 2 wins in the 3 games they played. They picked up 4 points in the standings and clinched a playoff spot, They took care of business when it mattered but they also were able to shut out their division rival New York Rangers twice. They finally found some offense scoring 7 goals in the final 2 games of the week.
The week ahead:
While every game of the season is important the Islanders have a playoff spot locked down so it's important that they play a safe but hard style of game. They have 4 winnable games this week, they will take a road trip up to Buffalo to finish off the season series with the Buffalo Sabres and then they will come home for the final two home games of the season against the New Jersey Devils. This is a very winnable week for the Islanders as they have done extremely well against both Buffalo and New Jersey this year. The Islanders while successful against these two teams need to take these games seriously and capitalize. They have.