It took some time and has come with many changes to his wingers, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau is on an offensive tear for the New York Islanders.
The third-line center was at it against Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres when he scored his fifth goal in four games, extending his goal streak to four in the Islanders’ 3-0 blanking of Buffalo.
Pageau had gone eight games without a goal and had registered just four points through the team’s first 11 games, but the switch seemed to flip when he scored against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 11.
His scoring touch is part of a larger trend for the Islanders, who’ve picked up a point in eight straight games. Ranked in the bottom three teams of the league in scoring for the first portion of the season, they’ve moved up incrementally to 24th in the NHL at 2.53 goals per game. It might not sound like a huge improvement, but getting closer to three goals per contest from where they were at the beginning of the point streak is a noticeable difference.
And part of that difference is Pageau, who now is tied for second with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle on the team in goals with six and second in points with 10.
Much like Monday’s win, the Islanders got on the board with a strike in front of the net from Anders Lee. And in a bit of deja vu, Pageau potted the team’s second. This time, unlike Monday, Pageau skated down the left wing and fired off a shot to the far side that beat Carter Hutton’s glove.
He nearly had another multi-goal game when he raced to a loose puck for a breakaway on a shorthanded chance in the third period, but was stopped but Hutton. Pageau did, however, reach a max speed of 23.8 mph on the break.
Pageau now has a goal in 4 straight pic.twitter.com/0bJFzSgogw
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) February 17, 2021
Whether it’s a bit of puck luck or skill or a combination of both, Pageau has the team lead in shooting percentage at 22.22 through the first 15 games. In all situations, he has a 107.5 PDO (shooting percentage plus team save percentage when on the ice), which is generally unsustainable. PDO generally evens out at 100, so Pageau is likely to see that number regress at some point.
More than his point streak, though, Pageau continues to be vital asset in multiple areas of the ice. He 57.78 faceoff percentage is the best on the team among those who consistently take draws. He’s spent over 20 minutes on the ice in penalty kill situations and has the teams lone shorthanded goal this year. And even in those shorthanded situations, he’s helped generate more high danger chances for than against (four to three).
In terms of Tuesday night’s sample with linemates Oliver Wahlstrom and Anthony Beauvillier, the trio actually did not fare well with four total chances for to 11 against in 5-on-5 situations. A sample of only 10 minutes, it’ll be interesting to see if Barry Trotz keeps those three together. There is a lot of speed and puck skill there, so given time, it could be a group that makes a lot of sense and could give the Islanders more scoring depth as the season moves along. Especially for Beauvillier, it was his first game back post-injury, so it could take some time to truly get his footing back with new linemates.
Even if the numbers come back down to Earth for Pageau, the Islanders can hope to get the most out of the versatile, two-way center while he’s got the scoring touch going.
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