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New York Islanders

Islanders Show First Signs Of Their Full Potential



AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Elmont, NY–  There have been times this season when the New York Islanders have shown they’re a capable hockey team, and others not so much.

Most of the time, they’ve executed on the power play.

Sometimes, they’ve held down a third-period lead. When they haven’t, oftentimes, it’s been due to their failure to protect the house while shorthanded.

But on Tuesday night, the Islanders put it all together for the first time, shutting down the Edmonton Oilers in all phases of the game for their most complete victory of the season.

“Good, solid game from start to finish,” Anders Lee said following the 3-1 win at UBS Arena. “They had a really nice play off the start, but after that, we settled in. It was one of where we had big kills, big power play moments and just good five-on-five plays.”

With Lee and Bo Horvat each capitalizing on the man advantage, it was the fifth time the Islanders have scored multiple power-play goals.

Meanwhile, the penalty kill, which has been dreadful all season, was perfect.

The Islanders’ league-worst penalty kill took care of all five chances Edmonton’s fourth-ranked power play had, including a five-on-three situation. To make it all the more sweeter, Simon Holmstrom tallied his fifth shorthanded goal of the season.

“I thought our structure, defensively, was good for the most part all night long,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “We protected the interior as best we possibly could. It’s a dangerous hockey team over there. When we gave up something, our goaltender was very, very good tonight. He was very focused.”

Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves in goal, half of which came during the third period. It was the elite level of play many have come to expect of him, but that’s been seldom seen this season. The only shot that got past him was the first he saw, a snipe from Leon Draisaitl at 1:23 of the first period.

Holding Draisaitl to a single point is one thing, but keeping Connor McDavid off the score sheet entirely is another. McDavid’s 12-game point streak came to an end against the Islanders in just the fifth game this year he’s failed to record a point.

“They can make a play from anywhere,” Lee said. “Even when you think they’re out of it, they’re not. The speed and size that those two possess are some of the best we ever see. You got to be to be on all times.”

Being on at all times against McDavid was exactly what Noah Dobson did as the Islanders used their emerging superstar to take out Edmonton’s established one.

His ascension as the Islanders’ bonified top defenseman is, in large part, why the Islanders are 7-1-2 stretch in their last 10 games, but only a small reason why they won on Tuesday.

“The commitment means winning your battles, clearing the puck and blocking shots,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “You saw a lot of that tonight, and it’s not only one guy. I think everyone chipped in. That was a really good team win.”

A good team win. Not one full of anxiety from another blown lead late or a comeback from a multi-goal deficit. Instead, one that settled tensions and affirmed what the Islanders could be with more like it in due time.