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O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! Anders Lee Leads Islanders to Much Needed Win over Pens

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New York Islanders Win

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — On a night when Jordan Eberle had a pair of goals for the New York Islanders, it was captain Anders Lee who had the biggest one of the night.

With the game tied at three with under five minutes to play, Lee scored the game-winning goal to propel the Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and snap a five-game losing streak. The game was the Islanders first game in six days.

The Islanders Captain’s winning tally came with 2:44 left in the game and New York on the power play. Pittsburgh starter Tristian Jarry thought he had the puck in his pads, but it had snuck free and Lee was able to push the loose puck into the net.

The goal was Lee’s fourth of the season and came at a time when the Islanders need a win the most. The Islanders had been 0-3-2 in their previous five games and had sunk to the bottom of the East Division.

“Probably like a starving person needing food, that’s probably how bad we needed (a win),” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We needed it for confidence. We need it to get ourselves back in the race. We played a few less games. We found a way to battle again. I didn’t like a lot of things that we did, but the one thing I did like is that they scored a goal at the end of the second period. … And then they take the lead, but I liked our response after the goal.”

Saturday night’s win was anchored by a two-goal night for Jordan Eberle, a two-point night for Michael Dal Colle and a 28 save performance from Semyon Varlamov. The multi-goal effort was Eberle’s first in the regular season since Feb. 21 against Detroit.

“Going into the third period of this game, every guy in the locker room knew that we needed to get to points to start climbing up the standings,” Eberle said. “You look at where you are, it’s a short season and you don’t want to get too far behind and we play these guys a lot. The nice thing about the way the season is set up this year, you’re never really out of it. … It’s time we start getting on a roll and build our game here.”

In addition, the win marked Varalmov’s 500th NHL game.

“I’m excited of course about the win, but I’m also really happy about finally playing 500 games,” Varlamov said. “I was very happy all day today just thinking about the game. I was looking forward to playing this game. It’s a pretty big achievement for me, especially for my family. I want to say thank you to all the coaches and all the staff, all the trainers who have been part of those 500 games.”

Eberle scored his first goal of the game 10:22 into the game. The New York Islanders were able to cause a turnover as Pittsburgh tried to enter the offensive zone and pushed the puck the other way.

Michael Dal Colle picked up the puck along the wall and fed Eberle, who charged towards the net and backhanded it past Tristian Jarry.  The assist was Dal Colle’s first point of the season.

Pittsburgh tied the game at one at 13:43 on Pierre-Olivier Joseph’s first career NHL goal. The rookie fired a powerful shot from inside the faceoff circle that beat Varlamov.

Eberle gave the New York Islanders back the lead at 15:45 on a play that highlighted how well the second line had worked on Saturday night. Eberle was able to work the puck into the Pittsburgh zone before he had it knocked away.

Dal Colle was able to stay with the puck and move it over to Brock Nelson, who in turn managed to get the puck on net which allowed Eberle to score on the rebound.

Pittsburgh pushed in the second period and Evgeni Malkin was rewarded with a late period goal to even tie the game back up at two. The Islanders turned the puck over just inside their own blue line and Malkin was able to put a quick wrister past Varlamov.

Pittsburgh took their first lead of the night at the 3:19 mark of the third. The Islanders got caught flat-footed and Jake Guentzel was able to bury a shot from the slot to put Pittsburgh up 3-2.

Their lead was short-lived, only lasting just over five minutes. Cal Clutterbuck was able to even the score up at three at 8:23 off a feed from Casey Cizikas.

The goal was Clutterbuck’s first since Dec. 5, 2019.

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[…] last night: At last, it was happiness! [LHH | Newsday | NHL | NYI Hockey Now […]

[…] It wasn’t a pretty win, but at this point, as the old saying goes, a win is a win. […]

[…] Islanders have won two straight games, including that previous matchup with Pittsburgh, while the visitors from the Key Stone State have dropped their last two. The Isles are a point in […]

New York Islanders

Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Tops Buffalo … Again

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Islanders sweep Sabres

No, this is not a copy-and-paste job from the past two games. The New York Islanders did in fact beat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, for the third straight game on Sunday afternoon.

It was again a second period of dominance for the Islanders, who rattled off three goals to take a commanding lead they would never relinquish.

In what has probably felt like Groundhog Day for Buffalo, it was another game of missed opportunities and a (mostly) quiet effort from its superstars. The Islanders now move to 10-0-2 at Nassau Coliseum this season as they’ve continually dominated on home ice.

Let’s take a dive into what went right and wrong for the Islanders in this Plus/Minus breakdown.

 

Plus

Anders Lee: O Captain! My Captain! 

Anders Lee has made a home office for himself in front of the net throughout his career. In 2021, he’s continued that theme and thrived in the dirty areas.

His goal 5:13 into the second period Sunday gave him a goal in back-to-back games and points in four straight contests. Now with a team-leading 12 goals this season, he’s on pace to top his 20 in 68 games from last season.

Every hockey coach will wax poetic on the importance of net-front presence, and the Islanders have one of the best forwards in the game to establish control in front of the crease. Just look at the consistency from this NBCSN graphic. Teams would be best served making sure Lee doesn’t get any space in front of the goalie. This isn’t exactly a new trend, but Lee uses his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame to his advantage.

Second period dominance: Part II

One day after the Islanders scored four in the middle period, they punched across three in the second. Lee, Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas all scored in what felt like a sequel to Saturday’s onslaught.

SUNDAY FUNDAY! Islanders Complete Sweep of Sabres with Third Straight 5-2 Victory

Nelson, who’s now scored in two straight, seems to finally be hitting his stride. Although five of his eight goals this year have come on the power play, his last two have come at even strength, a welcome sign for the Islanders and their scoring depth. Overall, he’s recorded a point in three straight games.

The Islanders as a team had seven high danger chances for and one allowed in the second period, which led to a gaudy 74.84 expected goals for percentage. The analytics matched with the eye test and the results.

Fourth line does it again

Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck each had a point in Saturday’s win and both were key in Sunday’s follow-up.

Clutterbuck’s goal just past the halfway mark in the third was especially important as the Sabres pressured and made it a one-goal game. Off a Brandon Davidson turnover at the blue line, Clutterbuck took the puck in all alone, used a forehand to backhand move and roofed a goal just under the bar and over Jonas Johansson’s blocker.

The fourth line was all over the scoresheet in the three-game sweep over the Sabres. Matt Martin scored twice Thursday, Clutterbuck added two over the last two games and Cizikas added one Sunday.

Yes, the Sabres are far and away the worst team in the league right now, but getting scoring depth is still important for the Islanders.

Minus

Shaky third, uneven Sorokin

Down 3-0, the Sabres showed enough pushback to get into the game in the third period and did thanks to goals from Jeff Skinner and Colin Miller. For a brief second after Miller’s goal, it was a close 3-2 game and Buffalo conceivably stayed in the game had it not been for Clutterbuck’s back-breaking goal.

Sorokin wasn’t really tested through the first two periods and wasn’t as his best in the final 20 minutes. Miller’s goal was a weak one he’d like to have back, with the puck just sliding under the netminder’s arm. Sorokin did recover to make a strong save on Skinner later in the period to keep the Sabres at two goals, but it definitely was not the best period for the rookie. In the end, he did stop 24 of 26 shots.

But had it not been for Scott Mayfield saving a loose puck near the goal line late in the third period, it likely would’ve been three goals for Buffalo.

Skinner gets off the schneid

It was going to happen eventually, but Skinner scoring his first goal of the year has to fall into the negative category for the Islanders. Buffalo’s top forwards (Skinner, Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall) have notably been quiet this season.

It was a great individual effort going from behind the net to roofing a backhander from near the crease, but when a skater hasn’t scored in over 365 days, you get a minus for allowing that to change, as nit-picky as that might be.

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New York Islanders

SUNDAY FUNDAY! Islanders Complete Sweep of Sabres with Third Straight 5-2 Victory

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New York Islanders win

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Buffalo  Sabres showed some life, but the New York Islanders held them off in the end and wrapped up a three-game set with Buffalo with a 5-2 win on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum.

Cal Clutterbuck came up with the most important goal of the afternoon, scoring with 7:03 left in the game and Buffalo carrying the momentum after pulling within one of the Isles. Clutterbuck was able to corral the puck after Matt Martin had flipped it out of the Islanders’ end.

Buffalo defenseman Brandon Davidson fell as he tried to keep up with Clutterbuck, which gave the Islanders forward a clear path to the net to score. Brock Nelson scored on the empty net at 17:48 to seal the win.

“It was a big goal,” Clutterbuck said about the play. “I just saw Marty flip a puck out and made a really good play under pressure. The puck took a bounce and I was fortunate enough to change directions… It worked out.”

It was the third consecutive game that the Islanders had defeated their Western New York foe by a 5-2 final. Sunday was the final meeting between the two teams on Long Island.

New York and Buffalo play two more times in the final week of the regular season at KeyBank Center.

“You see them three times in a row, all in our building,” Lee said. “It’s a mini-series. That third game is tough, especially on a back-to-back, and we knew that coming in. We did a real good job sticking to our game.”

The New York Islanders extended their hold of the East Division with Sunday’s win. They now sit four points ahead of the Washington Capitals, who are in action against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The Islanders took possession of the top spot in the division on Friday after Washington fell to the Boston Bruins.

Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas each scored on Sunday, and Nelson recorded his first two-goal game of the season. Ilya Sorokin picked up his fourth NHL win in goal, making 24 saves against Buffalo.

It was Sorokin’s seventh start this season.

“It’s tough to beat any team,” Nelson said. “These guys have a lot of weapons. Any team can beat anyone… so every game is going to be different every day…. We did a good job taking it one day at a time.”

Lee got the Islanders onto the board early in the second period with a redirection goal from in front of the net. Jordan Eberle sent a pass to Lee from the side of the net and the Islanders captain was able to put the puck past Buffalo starter Jonas Johansson at 5:13.

Just over a minute later the Islanders had made it a two-goal lead.

Oliver Wahlstrom was able to drive the puck into the offensive zone and then feed Nelson in the high slot. Nelson quickly got off a wrist shot that beat Johansson to make it a 2-0 game.

The goal extended Nelson’s point streak to three games and Sunday was the second consecutive game that Nelson had scored in.

The Islanders added to their lead late in the second when Cizikas scored off an impressive pass from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Islanders’ third line centerman backhanded a pass from the goal line over to Cizikas, who had been parked in front of the Buffalo Net.

Cizikas picked up his fourth point (one goal, three assists) in his last three games on the play and Pageau recorded his 200th career NHL assist.

Buffalo found some life in the third period to make things interesting. Jeff Skinner scored his first goal of the year at 5:41 of the final frame to break up Sorokin’s shutout bid.

Colin Miller pulled  Buffalo within one goal of the Islanders at the 9:35 mark of the third period.

Sunday’s game was nationally televised on NBC as part of Hockey Day in America. Lee and Nelson are both American-born and scored the first two goals of the game.

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New York Islanders

Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Rolls Over Buffalo Again | NYHN+

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Islanders celebrate goal against sabres

Another day, another 5-2 win for the New York Islanders against the Buffalo Sabres. It might not have been the prettiest start in the world, but the Islanders rolled with four goals in the second period to extend their point streak to seven games. “I don’t think we were sluggish,” Barry Trotz said of the…

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