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Rapid Reaction: Islanders Mauled by Panthers in Second Consecutive Loss

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New York Islanders

SUNRISE, FL — The New York Islanders dropped their second consecutive game of the season on Saturday in a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. New York is now 0-2-0 on the season and Ilya Sorokin recorded his second loss of the year.

How it Happened: Despite a strong start for the New York Islanders, it was Florida that found the back of the net first. Sam Bennett was able to outmuscle Noah Dobson in front of the net and get to a rebound in front of the net to put past Ilya Sorokin. The goal came on Florida’s third shot of the game, which New York had been controlling the pace of up until that point.

Florida extended its lead just under four minutes into the second period when Bennett converted on a wraparound attempt. Bennett got Sorokin shift to the right side of the net and with the Isles’ netminder out of position put the puck out of his reach to make it 2-0. Anthony Duclair gave his team a three-goal cushion at 18:57 of the second.

MacKenzie Weegar sprung Duclair, who was behind the Islanders’ defense and slid the puck past the leg of Sorokin for the breakaway goal.

The Islanders were able to cut the Florida lead to 3-1 in the third period when they converted on their fourth power play of the game. Oliver Wahlstrom was able to slide the puck through the legs of Sergei Bobrovsky to break the shutout.

Bennett completed the hat trick midway through the third period when he fired a shot over the glove of Sorokin. Aleksander Barkov made it 5-1 when he beat Sorokin at 12:22.

Power Play Ups and Downs: The New York Islanders finally found the net on the power play on Saturday, but finished the night 1-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-7 on the season. Not ideal through the first two games of the year when the power play was expected to be improved. The bright side is that the Isles looked as though their power play was starting to generate some momentum in their final two chances of the night.

Oliver Wahlstrom had a pair of chances from the left faceoff circle and he finally converted 10 seconds into New York’s fourth power play.

The Islanders’ first two power plays on Saturday looked like the ones they had on Thursday in Carolina. They failed to put a shot on net during their first attempt, couldn’t set up well and struggled to keep the puck in the offensive end. We’ll see which power play shows up in Chicago on Tuesday.

“You just have to continue to work,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s not coming easy right now. We have a bunch of great players who make a great power play. We just have to bear down and work a little harder.”

Sorokin Drops His Second game: Ilya Sorokin’s first two games as the Islanders starter haven’t gone according to plan. He surrendered three goals on Saturday and made 24 saves on 29 shots. Sorokin was caught out of position for the second goal when Bennett took advantage of the aggressive Sorokin and snuck the wraparound out of the reach of the young netminder.

Things didn’t much better for Sorokin on the fourth goal of the game,  which came off a slapshot from Bennett for his third of the night.  It appeared that Sorokin misjudged the puck and it went right over his glove on a shot that he should have stopped.

Not all of Sorokin’s issues have fallen on his shoulders. The Islanders failed to clear the front of the net on the first goal of the game, which was an issue that they had the previous game as well. Noah Dobson’s failure to clear Bennett from in front allowed him to easily put the rebound in.

“I can’t fault him on the breakaway and I’ll look at the chances,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “For us right now it’s not coming easy. We’re not scoring so maybe we’ll need our goalie to come up with the big save there just to get us going in the right direction. … He didn’t have much work and it’s not fair. Those are the toughest games for goaltenders, but they executed when they needed to.”

Un-Islander Like Through Two Games: The New York Islanders have been known to be a disciplined team that plays a strong defensive game and generates its offense from there. Through their first two games of the year, the Islanders haven’t looked like themselves. Poor communication and costly mistakes have put the Islanders on the wrong end of back-to-back games.

The Islanders have allowed 11 goals through their first two games of the year. They hadn’t allowed that many in last season until their sixth game of the 2020-21 campaign.

“Well it’s a little concerning, but to me, I just look at the game from an overall view,” Trotz said about the defensive blunders. “I thought we were really good in the first two periods. They didn’t have very many scoring opportunities, but when we’ve been breaking down we’ve been really breaking down in some areas. A lot of it starts with some of our executions and a couple of decisions. That goes part and parcel.”

Up Next: The New York Islanders will travel to Chicago to play the Blackhawks in the third game of their 13-game road trip to start the season.

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Hal Heyman

Maybe Chara -4 should sit and let someone else play for a change. Also, maybe Bellows would add some offense. Barzal and Bailey have hurt the power play by holding the puck and not shooting but that is nothing for either of them.

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