It was a bad start and only marginally got better as the game went on for the New York Islanders.
New York yielded the first five goals of the game and fell, 6-3, on the road to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The loss snapped the Islanders’ three-game winning streak as they’re tied with Washington at the top of the East with 48 points, though the Islanders have played two more games.
Let’s take a look at the bad and good from this loss.
Ugly second period
Already down 2-0 after one, the Islanders didn’t have a better effort in the ensuing 20 minutes. Pittsburgh rattled off three goals, the second of which knocked Ilya Sorokin out of the game.
It wasn’t much better for Semyon Varlamov, who gave up a goal on just the second shot he faced. Sidney Crosby scored one and Bryan Rust added two (and later ended with a hat trick) as the game was put out of reach well before the third period began.
Pittsburgh held 59 percent of the attempts at 5-on-5 in the second and really controlled the pace of play in the period.
“Our first period was fine, didn’t give up much, I know we out-chanced them in the first,” Barry Trotz said. “Second period we took an early penalty, they capitalized on a couple of unnecessary penalties. And then we got loose in front of our net.”
For the game, Pittsburgh went 2-for-4 on the power play.
Sorokin gets pulled
While it’s hard to place blame on the rookie netminder for the early mess, there had to be some change to try and get a spark going and that usually means switching goalies.
In terms of pure stats, it probably was Sorokin’s worst performance since his first game against the New York Rangers. Before getting yanked from the game, he only stopped 5-of-9 shots.
“Honestly I didn’t see enough from anybody — Ilya included. Trotz said. “Ilya and the rest of the team, it wasn’t enough.”
Not capitalizing in the first period
The Islanders did control most of the possession in the period and probably should’ve had more to show for it than what the scoreboard said at the end of the first 20.
But Pittsburgh was opportunistic and scored twice while the Islanders played from behind virtually all night. It set the tone in what was another struggled of a game against Pittsburgh, which has been a them this year.
Barzal gets going again
The Islanders did pull within 5-3 at a point, and Mathew Barzal was a big reason for that. He’s been struggling offensively since Anders Lee was sidelined for the year, but he broke through with his 10th goal of the second.
“I mean it’s nice to score but it wasn’t a game-winner, game-breaker goal,” Barzal said. “It was nice to get a little energy on the bench to pull it to four. … I prefer to score when it counts, I guess.”
He added and assist on Anthony Beauvillier’s goal for his first multi-point night since March 6 against Buffalo, which was the last game he scored a goal. Possession-wise, he had a solid game with a 57.69 Corsi For while he was on the ice at 5-on-5 with an 82.29 expected goals percentage. These are the games the Islanders need Barzal to have again.
It didn’t get off to the best start, but Varlamov coming in during a drubbing and playing the final period and a half was needed as Sorokin just didn’t have his best Saturday.
To his credit, Varlamov did his part after the goal and stopped all but one of the 11 shots he faced over the night.