Throughout the 2021-22 season, the New York Islanders found themselves trailing often. Because of their inability to play ahead, backed by a lack of resiliency, the losses piled up. Although the players would never admit that their confidence was lacking, it was pretty evident that their confidence had taken a significant hit.
But so far, through 12 games in 2022-23, a switch has been flipped. The New York Islanders have shown that resiliency that was lacking a year ago, as out of their eight wins on the season, they have trailed in four of them.
The latest come-from-behind win came Monday night against the Calgary Flames, as the New York Islanders erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period before ultimately winning 4-3 in overtime.
As we saw against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and throughout the season, the Islanders have struggled to find their legs early.
That was the case against the Flames, as the Islanders only recorded four shots in the first and eight in the second, being outshot 30 to 12 through forty minutes of play.
The Islanders were sloppy. Their communication was lacking. Passes were off target, and defensive blunders allowed the Flames to score first, eventually taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission and then a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Lane Lambert’s club didn’t have it for a second straight game as the crowd let their displeasure be known as they were booed off the ice once the second-period horn sounded.
But like we have seen often this season, this New York Islanders team did not throw in the towel despite the two-goal deficit.
2 goals in :59 and UBS is ROCKING 🗣🗣🗣 pic.twitter.com/rw2tv4RgON
— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) November 8, 2022
This was the second time in as many home games that the New York Islanders erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period. Last Saturday, the Islanders trailed 3-1 to the Colorado Avalanche in the third before winning that game 5-4 after a comeback for the ages.
“I think we have that feeling again where it doesn’t matter what the score is, we can come back and win and down two in a game where we were kind of getting dominated a little bit and find a way to do it, that just boosts morale in the room, and we really believe we can win in any hockey game,” Mathew Barzal shared.
What makes this comeback even more impressive is that the Islanders were down a man early on, as Cal Clutterbuck played just under four minutes before leaving the game due to an undisclosed injury.
“I think Lane [Lambert] does a great job when that’s happened a couple times this year. He’s done a great job with managing the bench and managing lines and getting everybody going,” Barzal said. “This is a tight-knit group, and we like to pick guys up when guys are down.”
Mat Barzal recorded three assists in the win as he played an integral part in the comeback. He now has 14 assists through 13 games and, despite no goals yet, has been a force as of late.
This season, statistically, the Islanders have already been more resilient than they were a year ago.
Last season, the Islanders were 2-25-1 when trailing after one period and just 1-27-3 when trailing after two periods. This season, the Islanders are 3-2-0 when trailing after one period, and as mentioned, have come back to win two games in the third period.
“I think we got that feeling again, where it’s just like, we can win any hockey game. We lost it a little bit last year. We felt we could never really find those games and come back and have those moments during the year. And I feel like we’ve had won against Colorado, we had won tonight, and those moments add up through a long schedule. And yeah, we don’t want to have a bad 40, but occasionally it’s going to happen, and to know we can respond in the third, it’s a big boost for our group.”
New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert gave his players all the credit for their comeback win Monday night.
“I thought our players took it upon themselves and stepped up to the plate. You know, it was all them,” Lambert said. “They came out after the second period and certainly took charge and had that belief.”
Lee explained how following the second period, they knew that the opportunities were there to come back in the game.
“We played a great third period. We believe in this room going out for it that this was an opportunity for us to come back. We went out there and actually accomplished it.”
Slow starts have been a significant issue for the New York Islanders season and, quite frankly, a top concern going forward despite the resiliency.
It’s no way to win consistently over an 82-game season, despite the recent success.
“We got to find a way to be better in the first twenty, first forty and start to generate some of this stuff a lot earlier.”
Although it’s not just one issue leading to the slow starts, Lambert mentioned postgame that his team was failing to move their feet early, which seems to be a common theme.
While the Islanders continue to try to work out that significant issue, they are, more often than not overcoming their early-game blunders, a major difference from a year ago.