As the New York Islanders head down the final stretch of the regular season, they should be looking to fine-tune their game heading into the postseason.
Instead, there might be more wholesale changes needed with another bad loss on to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. This time the Islanders fell, 4-3, in a shootout.
They only earned one of four points over two games that were more than winnable coming into the road series.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this one.
Michael Houser is a career minor league goaltender, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL since the 2012-13 season. Tuesday he made his NHL debut and stole the show.
The Islanders had their fair share of chances, recording 48 shots across three periods in regulation and then overtime. They did score three times but it wasn’t enough against a depleted Sabres roster. Credit Houser, who was poised and made 45 saves and three more in the shootout. The first period the Islanders dominated the game and recorded 21 shots and a slew of odd-man rushes, but scored just once on Anthony Beauvillier’s goal.
Bailey with the dish! pic.twitter.com/7qqhbICJ8p
— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 4, 2021
For the game, the Islanders largely pushed the play and had a 63.41 expected goals percentage. All of the possession and chances didn’t lead to more and the Islanders squandered a pretty great opportunity to gain two points against one of the weakest teams in the NHL.
Second period woes
This is a little misleading because the Islanders did score two goals, one from Ryan Pulock and the other from Cal Clutterbuck in the second.
But in the middle 20 minutes, the Islanders yielded the game to the Sabres who pushed play for a lot of the 5-on-5 minutes. Buffalo held a 21-12 shot attempt margin and did end up scoring one from Anders Bjork (who later scored the tying goal).
This is a season-long trend that the Islanders have largely not cleaned up, which isn’t a promising sign heading into the playoffs.
Beauvillier continues to score
As much as this game is one the Islanders will probably want to forget, Beauviller scored his sixth goal since April 20. While Brock Nelson has gone cold and Josh Bailey has been up-and-down this year, Beauvillier has stepped up offensively in recent weeks.
The line did generate 19 chances overall with a 70.37 Corsi For percentage, the best on the team in this game.
The Islanders start a two-game series with the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum. They’ll play New Jersey again on Saturday and then finish out the regular season on Boston on Monday.
With 53 games played, they have 68 points — one behind Boston for third place in the East.
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