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Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Cruises to Easy Win Over Sabres

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Islanders celebrate goal

Thursday’s matchup with the Buffalo Sabres was the perfect way for the New York Islanders to continue their hot stretch.

And they did not disappoint.

Led by two goals by Matt Martin, the Islanders rolled to a 5-2 win at Nassau Coliseum to extend their point streak to six games. And at the beginning of month three of the NHL season, the Islanders still do not have a regulation loss at home.

There was plenty of things to like — and a few on things on the negative side — so let’s take a look a little closer at some of those components from Thursday’s game.

Plus 

Martin acts like a sniper

Aside from his five-goal run during the 2020 postseason, Martin has not exactly been a noted scorer in his career. He’s on the energy line and is better known for finishing checks than finishing goals. In fact, he hadn’t registered a multi-goal game since March 25, 2014.

Almost seven years later, Martin put up another multi-goal game. He scored at the end of the first and capped off the scoring in the third. But it was the first one that was turning heads on social media.

Shooting from underneath the red line, Martin found the smallest of spaces to put the puck in between Jonas Johansson’s mask and shoulder for a goal. With the effort, Martin now has four goals on the season, just one short of his total from last regular season.

“Initially I was trying to find [Casey Cizikas] and [Cal Clutterbuck] around the net,” Martin said of the first goal. “And they weren’t open, everyone gravitated to them. I took a look at the goalie and he was down and just tried to put it there. Luckily I was able to hit my spot and it went in.”

Of note, Martin led the Islanders in Corsi For at 5-on-5 Thursday at 75 percent. Not too shabby.

Dobson continues to roll

As he’s found his footing, Noah Dobson has been a key contributor at both blue lines.  He had the scoring touch Thursday, notching his second of the season. Acting as a trailer on the rush with Jordan Eberle, Dobson used a quick release to open the scoring.

He now has nine points, second most among the Islanders defensive corps behind Nick Leddy. In the win he also logged 18:20 of ice time, the first time he’s skated that much in one game since Jan. 30.

Possession, possession and more possession 

From start to finish, the Islanders dominated Buffalo, which makes sense. Buffalo is the worst team in the league and didn’t put much of a fight up the first two times these teams played.

Thursday’s game was more of the same and the Islanders never took their foot off the gas pedal, other than maybe for a small stretch in the second period.

Islanders and Sabres heat map

The Islanders had 13 high danger chances and yielded only three while retaining a 58.33 percent Corsi For overall. For the game, they had a 70.45 expected goals percentage, almost unheard of for a team that generally plays close games. There are only so many superlatives you can give the Islanders for this effort. But they were a freight train going and the Sabres couldn’t move out of the way.

“When I looked at the chances after the first period, [Buffalo] had some really good looks,” Barry Trotz said. “I thought they had as many as we did but they failed on them and we were able to capitalize on ours.”

Minus 

Sorkin’s shutout streak is over

Well, all good things must come to an end, and so did Ilya Sorokin’s shutout streak. The second-period strike from Taylor Hall was the first goal the rookie netminder had allowed in three games. It was a big rebound off the initial shot and Hall had an open net to cash in on just his second goal with Buffalo.

Sorokin does have his place in Islanders history, now holding the team’s third longest shutout streak by a rookie goalie.

It was an overall quiet night in net for Sorokin, who made 16 saves on 18 shots. For the year he has a .909 save percentage.

Power play goes scoreless 

Man-advantage chances abound, the Islanders did not pot one on the power play Thursday. That’s back-to-back games without a goal on special teams after a month of February where they dominated in such situations.

Thursday they went 0-for-3 and are now 12th in the league at a 23.4 percent success clip on the power play.

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