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New York Islanders

Islanders Bounce-Back; Gauthier & Pageau Go Off On Capitals



AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie

Elmont, NY– The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals by a final score of 5-1 Friday night at UBS Arena.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Julien Gauthier each scored twice for the Islanders, who also had a contribution from Noah Dobson. Ilya Sorokin made 26 saves in net, losing a shutout bid in the final seconds of the game.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored the Capitals’ only goal with seconds remaining in the game.

Charlie Lindgren started the game for Washington but left the game less than midway through the first period. Darcy Kuemper took his place and stopped  24 of 29 shots.

The Islanders’ record improves to 17-9-9 following the victory. With 43 points, they move into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

But that’s just the box score. Here are the key takeaways from the night that was at UBS Arena.

The Right Response:

After getting steamrolled by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, the Islanders desperately needed to respond with a win of this caliber.

“We had a good character response,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “We were better defensively and committed in terms of finishing and closing. We played a pretty solid game all the way around.”

The Islanders never trailed in the game. Coincidentally, after allowing six goals in the second period on Wednesday,  they took the lead in the middle frame against Washington, never looking back once Jean-Gabriel Pageau got things rolling.

Pageau And Gauthier Go Off:

Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been a constant in the Islanders’ lineup all season and he may finally have a solid second linemate to work with after both he and Gauthier scored twice against Washington.

Pageau sniped the top corner with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle for his third goal of the season to open the scoring. Alexander Romanov and Gauthier assisted on the goal.

“J.G. was making all the right plays for us,” Gauthier said. “We just had to get in the right spots at the right time, and he was feeding us. He was also really good for his two goals. It’s fun to see him going like that.”

In the third, Gauthier scored a goal of his own as he buried a rebound in the high slot off an initial shot by Pageau. He struck again 17 seconds later, scoring as he collected a pass from Pagaeau and cutting to middle, finishing the play with his backhand. The two-goal performance was the first of Gauthier’s NHL career.

“He’s a big guy,” Pageau said of Gauthier. “He asks a lot of questions. You see that he’s committed, and he wants to do the job. I’m happy for him that he was able to get the two goals tonight. I think it’ll be very good for his confidence.”

Pageau matched his linemate, pushing the Islanders’ total to five at 14:26 of the third. He now has three goals this season.

Pageau finished the game as the leading scorer with four points, while Gauthier had three.

A Vintage Showing By Sorokin:

After possibly one of the worst performances of his career, the version of Ilya Sorokin that finished second in last season’s Vezina Trophy voting made a return on Friday night.

Sorokin was rock steady against the Capitals.

Although he came one save shy of his third shutout of the season, Sorokin was square to the puck all night and rarely gave up a rebound.

The Islanders will need a lot more performances like this out of Sorokin while backup Semyon Varlamov is day-to-day.

Matt Is Back:

Matt Martin drew back into the Islanders lineup for the first time since Nov. 15, as his Identity Line linemate, Casey Cizikas, was out with an illness versus Washington.

In his time out, Martin had two separate stints on the injured reserve list while dealing with an upper-body injury.

Martin made jumped right into the action from the opening draw, running over a pair of Capitals with ferocious hits in his first shift. In total, he had 3 hits in 10:54 of ice time. But more subtly and importantly, Martin was a stabilizer for the Islanders.

“He is one of our leaders,” Lambert said. “There’s no question about it. Having him there and having him in the locker room tonight was definitely helpful.”

Up Next:

The Islanders will close out 2023 in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.




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