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New York Islanders ‘Unacceptable’ Penalties Becoming Habit that Can’t Continue

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New York Islanders

There are only so many times you can ask your penalty kill to bail you out before the law of averages kicks in. And with the New York Islanders taking four penalties on Thursday night, two of which taken by one of their top killer in Casey Cizikas, it was only a matter of time before it came back to haunt them.

The Islanders let a 1-0 lead slip away in their 3-2 overtime loss on Thursday to the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was a 33-second span that turned the tide of the game and allowed Columbus to score twice to take a lead, and it was New York’s penalty kill that got caught in a tough spot and let up the tying goal with two minutes left in the second.

The number of penalties that the Islanders took against Columbus was indicative of how things have been going as of late for them. New York took a pair of penalties in the first period, which was thwarted by Ilya Sorokin and the penalty kill unit, which was short an asset in Jean-Gabriel Pageau who was out with a non-COVID related illness.

Then in the second as the Islanders picked up some steam and took a 1-0 lead. That was upended when Cizikas found himself taking a pair of poorly timed penalties to take him off the ice when he was needed most.

New York survived the first one, but without Cizikas for the second straight kill, Columbus took full advantage.

“Casey is one of our primary penalty killers if not one of our best,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “With Pageau out that puts a lot of effort, especially in the faceoff circle, on our guys. You’re looking at Pelly, Barzy isn’t going to kill penalties. You’re down to two faceoff guys, so it puts a lot of strain on it for sure.”

The storyline through the first four games of the year has been somewhat the same for the New York Islanders. Sloppy play and little mistakes have ballooned into much bigger issues and have allowed games to get away from them.

The momentum immediately shifted during those 33-seconds and it started with the Cizikas penalty. Seconds later, the Islanders committed another mistake as three players collapsed into the corner giving Cole Sillinger a pretty clean look at the net for the first goal of his NHL career.

“We had two plays, one on the unnecessary penalty when they’re dumping the puck in one-on-three,” Trotz said. “We take a penalty on it. That’s just, in some ways, unacceptable. That’s just being careless. They scored on it and got momentum the next shift. The shift after a goal is huge. We duplicated in the corner, they fed it out front. We were late to the party and a really good period that you could wrap your arms around, we come out 2-1.”

On a night when the penalty kill went 3-for-4, it’s hard to pick apart what they did, but for a unit that has been the Islanders’ best special teams group it can’t come up short in big moments. It’s also on the New York Islanders not to put themselves in a tough spot at an important part of the game.

Thursday was the second time in four games that an Islanders forward took an “unacceptable” penalty that cost their team. In the season opener, Oliver Wahlstrom took a poorly timed hooking penalty midway through the third with the Islanders trailing by just one.

Teuvo Teravainen scored what Trotz later described as the backbreaking goal of the game.

Unlike the Islanders’ first game of the year, they escaped Columbus with a point despite some of their mistakes. Call it progress if you will, but with just one win and three points out of a possible eight, they will need to be more disciplined than they have been over the first four games.

“The one point I guess that’s good, but we want two every night,” Scott Mayfield said. “Definitely think we could have pulled out the extra point in regulation maybe, but we didn’t and that’s how it goes.”

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