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3 Takeaways from the New York Islanders Much-Needed Win Over Coyotes

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New York Islanders Ilya Sorokin

The New York Islanders picked up their second win of the season and third consecutive game with at least a point with a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. It was an important win for New York, which has struggled out of the gate this season going 2-2-1 in their first five games.

Cal Clutterbuck, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each scored for the Islanders and Ilya Sorokin made 26 saves in the win. Here are three takeaways from the shutout victory.

Line Shuffling pays Off

The decision to move Josh Bailey to the top line with Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal took just about everyone by surprise. Bailey hadn’t been the poster boy for offensive success for the Islanders through the start of the year and it had been speculated that head coach Barry Trotz would have swapped Bailey and Wahlstrom, pushing the veteran down to the third line, while giving the younger forward a bump up to the second line.

Regardless, the decision paid off because the Islanders’ offense found its spark with the changes. Brock Nelson scored on the power play, with Josh Bailey recording an assist, and the newly formed second line helped set up Anthony Beauvillier for the third goal of the game.

As a trio, Kyle Palmieri, Nelson and Beauvillier combined for four points on Saturday night.

“Sometimes as much as you keep lines together they go stale a little bit,” Trotz said. “I thought (the Beauvillier, Nelson, Bailey) line went a little bit stale. They Spent too much time in their own end. … I felt that was just a necessary change.”

Trotz didn’t seem like he wanted to mess with the chemistry of the fourth line and he liked the way that the third line had played in Chicago. He wanted to give them the chance to stay together with Pageau back from a non-COVID-related illness.

“That’s the great thing about being a winger on this team, it doesn’t matter what line you end up with you’re getting a quality centerman and another quality winger to play with,” Bailey said about the shuffle. “I think you approach it like any other game. I’ve played with those guys plenty in the past and I thought Nelly’s line played exceptionally tonight as well.”

Islanders Looking More Like Themselves

Saturday’s win for the New York Islanders wasn’t perfect, but it had been the best the team has looked in a while. The Islanders have struggled to play a consistent 60-minute effort through the first four games of the season, but Saturday had been the closest they’ve had.

The Islanders had more defensive structure to their game and held Arizona to just 26 shots on net. It was the fewest the Islanders have allowed all season, with the 29 they allowed in a 5-1 loss to Florida last weekend being the previous low. New York had been averaging 35.5 shots a game in the four games leading up to Saturday.

“I thought (we were) a little bit loose in the first and I thought the second we were good,” Trotz said. “One or two shifts we had a little bit of looseness. Even in the third, I thought we were good until the last shift. They got one good chance so a little bit better, but we still have another level.”

Part of what helped the Islanders play more to their style was the fact that they had all 12 of their regular forwards on the ice. It was the first time all season that it had occured. Matt Martin missed the first two go games of the year, Anders Lee missed New York’s win in Chicago because of illness and Pageau missed Thursday’s game in Columbus due to illness.

The win on Saturday did come against an Arizona team that still has yet to win a game this season and is expected to be in the basement of the NHL, but the effort was a positive sign for the New York Islanders going forward.

“I think we want to get back to our identity and obviously it’s not an ideal schedule that we have here, but we have to fight through this,” Beauvillier said. “Push together and get points on the road. It was a big win for us. I thought it was a strong performance from everyone and we played the right way. We played the way that we should play.”

Sorokin Gets the Shutout

Ilya Sorokin was so close to recording his first shutout of the year in New York’s win over Chicago earlier this week. The opportunity didn’t pass him on Saturday as he turned away 26 shots for his fourth career NHL shutout. The young netminder looked sharp in his fifth consecutive start for the New York Islanders.

In an odd twist of fate, Sorokin faced a similar situation that he did on Tuesday, with his shutout bid nearly eradicated in the final minute of the game. This time around Sorokin turned away Nick Schmaltz’s last-second chance to keep Arizona off the board.

“It’s a good bonus for winning the game,” Sorokin said about the shutout. “Two games ago in Chicago, they scored a goal in the last minute, but it’s not a big problem because we got the win. For us it’s we need the win.”

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