NYI vs. BUF - 5/3:
With just 5 games left in their season the Islanders know every point counts. The Islanders have to keep battling if they want home ice advantage. The Islanders took a trip up to Buffalo for a back to back with the Sabres, Varlamov would look to continue his shutout streak while Michael Houser was looking to grab his first NHL win in his NHL debut. Adam Pelech would get us started with a simple wrist shot that was deflected by a Buffalo skater in front past Houser to make the game 1-0 in favor of the Islanders. The score was 1-0 at the end of the first as the Islanders had a decent but not overwhelmingly good first period. It seemed that Ryan Pulock would extend that lead for New York as he blasted home what appeared to be his second of the year that would make the game 2-0 but the goal was called back on a questionable goaltender interference play in front of the Buffalo net. Casey Cizikas seemed to be pushed into the goaltender but the referees declared it to be no goalkeeping New York to just a 1-0 lead. Oliver Wahlstrom would put another one past Houser this one would indeed count, extending the lead to 2-0 for real this time closely after the disallowed goal by Ryan Pulock. With just 6 minutes left to play in period 2 the Buffalo Sabres, specifically Tage Thompson, would finally break Semyon Varlamov’s shutout streak at 248:00 making the game 2-1 and bringing the Sabres back into the hockey game. The score remained the same for the final few minutes of period 2. Buffalo definitely outplayed the Islanders but not to an astounding degree so we were set up for an Interesting third period. New York would hold the slim one goal margin for the first 11:25 of the third period until Rasmus Asplund found a loose puck in front of the Islander net and slid it past Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The game was tied at 2 and the Ryan Pulock no goal looks absolutely huge for the Islanders now. Mathew Barzal had a golden chance to regain the lead for the ISlanders but the shot rolled off of his stick which just shows how the night was going for the Islanders. Just around 5 minutes after the tying goal, rock bottom would strike for the New York Islanders as Sam Reinhart would rip one past Varlamov to give Buffalo the 3-2 lead putting the Islanders in danger of a regulation loss to the statistical worst team in the NHL. The no goal call against Pulock looks even bigger now that the Islanders are staring disaster in the face. With the Islanders net empty the Islanders could not generate any high danger chances or even a shot on goal for that matter and the game was summed up by Nick Leddy fumbling a pass high in the zone allowing Same Reinhart to flip the puck down the ice and into the vacated cage for his 2nd of the game to ice the game for the Sabres. Overall the Sabres got an impressive start for their goalie and first star of the game Michael Houser who allowed just 2 goals on 36 shots in his NHL debut. Words could not explain how disappointing this loss is especially with it coming in regulation to a team like the Buffalo Sabres who the Islanders have had immense success against. At the end of the day the Sabres game to play tonight and the Islanders did not, which is frustrating to watch considering the Islanders situation as of now. They will have another chance to redeem tonight's utter embarrassment against what will most likely be the same lineup for the Buffalo Sabres. You can only hope this was a rock button for the Isles when it comes to effort level from here on out as the playoffs are coming up and efforts like tonight would end up as slaughters.
NYI vs. BUF - 5/4
The Islanders were in need of a bounce back effort after a disheartening loss, the Islanders had a few major lineup changes. Martin,Barzal,and Komarov were all held out of the lineup and Dal-Colle, Johnston, and Zajac were in. The Islanders had a good first period in which they had 21 shots on net and 33 attempts but it would be the Buffalo Sabres more specifically Cody Eakin to open the scoring first. Eakin found the puck off an Islanders defensive zone turnover and wasted no time getting one past Sorokin. Just 26 seconds later Anthony Beauvillier would get it right back on a one-timer that Michael Houser had no chance on. Beauvillier has been on a scoring streak lately as he has now scored 4 times in his last 5 games. Overall the Islanders had an outstanding first period but it is certainly disappointing that they could not come out with a lead after outshooting their opponent 21-9 in the frame. Ryan Pulock would give the Islanders their first lead of the evening as he ripped one past Michael Houser to make it 2-1 New York. Just 6 minutes later the Islanders would extend their lead to 3-1 as Cal Clutterbuck found himself on a shorthanded breakaway that he made absolutely no mistake converting on going off the bar and in. With just under 3 minutes to play Buffalo would get themselves back into the game as they looked to overcome a 2 goal deficit for the second time in as many nights. The Islanders would take their alim one goal margin to the third period where disaster struck them at 10:56 of the frame, Anders Bjork would get his second of the night tying the score at 3. The Islanders had once again thrown away a two goal lead in equally as embarrassing form as last night's fiasco. We would remain scoreless for the remainder of regulation sending us to a shootout as the Isles and Sabres both pick up points on the night. The Islanders started overtime with control of the puck but a turnover gave the Sabres possession while putting the Islanders on defense. With under a minute to play in OT the Isles’ only real chance towards the net was a partial breakaway by Nick Leddy. It is situations like these that show keeping a guy like Barzal out can have unwanted side effects. The Islanders had just 1 shot in overtime and the Sabres could not manage a shot on goal. The Islanders and Sabres tied at 3 would need to finish this meeting off in the shootout. Sam Reinhart and Jordan Eberle would both be held off the scoresheet in round 1. Anders Bjork would lead off round 2 of the shootout, wristing one past Ilya Sorokin who was surprisingly deep in his crease. Beauvillier would be held off the scoresheet in hopes of tying it, shifting the pressure back to Sorokin who needed a save to keep the game going and he got just that, shutting down Casey Mittlestadt to put the game on the stick of Oliver Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom could not score, leading to a disappointing 4-3 loss in the shootout to the Buffalo Sabres. Tonight was unacceptable by the Islanders and they needed a bounceback and fast.
NYI vs. NJD - 5/6
After a disaster of a road trip up in Buffalo the Islanders returned home to the Nassau Coliseum to face the New Jersey Devils. The Islanders came out with a strong first 10 minutes of the game but they again could not find the game's first goal and in what is becoming a common theme the Islanders fell behind first, this time it was Pavel Zacha putting the Devils on top. The Islanders have come out well early in each of their past few games and they have won the ones they jump ahead in and lost the ones they fell behind in. The Devils would maintain the lead till the end in the first and the Islanders again found themselves disappointed after a good start but a bad end to the period in which they fell behind. They were outshot 12-8 as the Devils came on strong in the final 10. Five minutes into period 2 Anthony Beauvillier would score his 5th goal in as many games assisted by Scott Mayfeild and Brock Nelson. Beauvillier who had just 2 goals back in March is now just one goal off the team lead at 15. Shortly after the Beauvillier goal Brayden Coburn would take a penalty sending him off and the Devils to the power play. That penalty sucked the life out of the Isles as they seemed to not be able to recover from the call. The Devils did not convert on the PP but they did capture the momentum which is just as if not more important than scoring. Minutes later the Devils would re-take the lead as Michael McLeod would tap home a cross ice feed exposing a major concern for the Islanders. The leddy-Mayfield pairing has had their fair share of struggles and while you win and lose as a team they have been accountable for a couple of gut wrenching losses like the 4-3 loss to the Flyers in which the Islanders had come back from 3 goals just to lose 4-3 in the final minute and tonight just to point out a few. The pairing was out for both goals against and were significant factors in both. While they were out for the only Isles goal they are not truly clicking in their defensive zone as much as the Isles had hoped. The Devils now had the lead at 2-1 and all the momentum and they carried their 2-1 lead into period 3. The Islanders generated a few chances in period three but a few crucial misses in front of the net and highlighted by a 2 on 1 in which Nelson could not get a pass over to Josh Bailey on a play that Brock Nelson would shoot 9 out of 10 times and with that the Islanders would move into the final minute and a half with their net empty and they won a few faceoffs but failed to generate any high danger opportunities meaning the Islanders again would fall short this time by a final score of 2-1. The islanders showed slight signs that they are breaking out of the slump but still there are a few issues that are starting to really hurt the Islanders and they are all but a lock for the 4th spot in the East Division. They have just 2 games to find or build some confidence as the playoffs approach quickly.
NYI vs. NJD - 5/8
The Islanders are looking to redeem themselves after a frustrating week and a string of losses with the final home game ever at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders have had a rough week so far and that needs to change and fast. With under 2 minutes to play Jordan Eberle would get the Islanders on the board with his 16th of the season, the goal was assisted on by Barzal and Komarov as that line continued to click. The Islanders finally scored the first goal of the game which is a much needed thing for them thus far. The first period would come to an end with a 1-0 lead for the Islanders and finally what seemed to be the makeup of a complete game for the Islanders. Sorokin made all four saves he needed to in a very successful period for New York. The Devils would open up the second period with a goal from Andreas Johnsson to tie the score at one and it seemed as if the Islanders would again falter until just 5:02 later Brock Nelson would score his first goal in over 10 games, this time on the powerplay as the Islanders power play is starting to find its stride again. These are all good signs that the Islanders are breaking out of their slump and that the Islanders are moving in the right direction. Just minutes later Brock Nelson would find the back of the net for the second time in the period to give the Isles a 3-1 lead. Nelson’s goal was his team leading 18th. The Islanders would take the 3-1 lead into the third period in a game that they could not blow another two goal lead in. Just over 4 minutes into the third period Kyle Palmieri found himself behind the defense with an open look and he made no mistake slipping a backhander past his former teammate Mackenzie Blackwood while falling onto the goaltender. This is Palmeiri’s second as an Islander and he is finally starting to find his game in the Islanders system. Just around a minute later Mathew Barzal would find a goal of his own as he ripped a wrist shot past Blackwood to make the game 5-1 in favor of the Islanders. Not only was the quantity of goals good for New York it was the people who scored them as well. Barzal, Eberle, Palmieri, and Nelson were all not scoring as they usually do and they all finally cracked through tonight. It was a 5-1 victory for the Islanders and it had great signs that they were breaking out of their slump.
The week recapped:
This was obviously a rough week for New York but they were able to cap it off with a great win to close out the regular season games at the Coliseum. The bright spots were guys like Eberle and Nelson who seem to be breaking out of their slumps just in time while more wins could have helped them with the playoff seeding they are in the playoffs in any case which is a positive.
The week ahead:
The Islanders will take some well deserved and needed time off to prepare for the playoffs which are likely starting this weekend.