JFK International Airport, NY — There’s no guessing what the New York Islanders can do when desperation comes to the surface.
Friday night, the Islanders seemed asleep in the most important game of the season at this point, as they faced the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were two points ahead of them for the top wild-card spot.
But suddenly, the alarm clock went off.
The Islanders became relentless on the forecheck towards the end of the second, playing stronger in the defensive zone, and the leaders led by example en route to a 5-4 come-from-behind win.
One could say that the third period, where the Islanders scored the tying and winning goal, was one of their best third periods of the season.
The Islanders stole one against the Penguins to jump back in a playoff spot, with just games in hand separating these two, but now the Islanders have a much tougher challenge ahead as they face the Boston Bruins not even 24 hours later–the best team in the NHL.
With that, let me pause for questions, comments, and concerns:
I still don’t trust this team to be consistent enough to make the post-season. That said, they showed more heart in the third period than they have since 2021. (@mdigiac)
That desperation was something we were waiting for, for a while. In the third period, they played like their season depended on it, and it brought out the best in them.
They were led by their two top lines, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee, with Zach Parise scoring the game-winner with under three to play.
Now, since we know that they have the power to do that now, let desperation take over, where was that during the Canadian games last week? Where was that in January?
If they were to ‘buy’ at the deadline, what players do you see them going after or inquiring about? (@joe_g31)
I think the Islanders will be eyeing St.Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev. He’s going to likely cost a first-plus.
Here’s my story on some options:
If the Islanders are going to add, a forward is important, but so is a depth defenseman. Like a veteran depth defenseman, not a star like Jakob Chychrun.
Happy with the W, maybe best game at UBS this season, but a little nervous with how the first, mostly 2/3rds of that game went. (MikeyG516)
Yeah, those first 30-35 minutes were quite frankily unacceptable in what was their most important game up until this point.
They were outshot 18-8 in the first and were outshot 12-1 to start the second.
But down 3-1, then 4-2, Islanders woke up late in the second and put together one of their strongest third periods of the season.
If that start happens against Boston, watch out.
I don’t know what to feel anymore with this team. (@mikejacabacci)
When you think about it, it’s crazy how the Islanders can just flip a switch.
They looked lost and then dominant.
Maybe they are the ninth wonder of the world?
The positive for fans is that despite the shaky play, there’s still some excitement left, and the Islanders will likely be involved in the playoff conversation until game 82, which could not be said a year ago.
If Bailey and Pageau are out of the lineup, who fills in? (AZ_NYIsles)
This team, right now, is a two-line team. If Josh Bailey is out, as well as Jean-Gabriel Pageau, we could see Ross Johnston slot back in, with Andy Andreoff remaining in, but they aren’t going to play a whole lot.
Bailey did not play the final 23:43 as he was not on the bench to start the third, but Lambert had no update to provide on his status.
We could also see Lambert go 11 forwards and seven defensemen, but having just played Friday night, that may be tough.
The Blues did a heck of a job maximizing the value on two players who are on the decline. 6 picks, two of which are 1sts. (@meyersMMA35)
Yes, they did, and the Islanders, unless contract extensions are already in place, should strongly consider moving unrestricted free agents Scott Mayfield and Semyon Varlamov.
It’s not crazy to think that both could get first-round returns.