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Rapid Reaction: New York Islanders Picked up a Point but Needed More

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New York Islanders

ELMONT, N.Y. — The New York Islanders finally picked up a point, but the losing streak continued with a 2-1 loss in overtime to the San Jose Sharks at UBS Arena. The Islanders are now 5-10-3 this season and 0-8-1 in their last nine games.

How it Happened: The New York Islanders saw San Jose score 39 seconds into overtime after an ill-advised pinch by Anthony Beauvillier in the offensive zone allowed the visitors to rush the other way. With only Pelech back, he managed to push one San Jose skater to the side of the net, but overskated the play and the puck was able to be moved to Erik Karlsson for the winner.

Mathew Barzal became the third player in Islanders history to score a goal at UBS Arena when found the back of the net 1:04 into the game. It was the first time the Islanders had led in a game since Barzal scored 2:53 into the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 15.

The goal on Thursday night came off after he skated from his own end and then fired the puck past Adin Hill.

San Jose was able to even the score at the 9:10 mark of the first period just as an Islanders’ penalty was expiring. The Islanders failed to clear the puck and some quick passing led to Nick Bonino easily tapping the puck past Ilya Sorokin.

Where is the Scoring: The New York Islanders offense has struggled through this nine-game stretch. The Islanders have been outscored 34-8 during their losing streak and have struggled to generate chances. Even when the Islanders get shots through, they seem to be low percentage ones or miss the net entirely.

New York showed a bit more jump out of the gate in the first period but the forward group seemed to drop off as the game went on. Even with the return of Lee and Bailey upfront, the Islanders didn’t seem to have a way to beat Adin Hill. The Islanders generated 23 scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick, but only seven of them were considered high danger.

From Russia with Love: The New York Islanders should thank their lucky stars for the play of Ilya Sorokin on Thursday night. Ilya the Thrillya, or whatever else you’d like to nickname him, earned it for his 34 save effort against San Jose. The young Russian netminder made save after save for New York as they battled to end their eight-game slump.

His performance was highlighted by a sequence of saves early in the second period and a big stop on Kevin Labanc after Grant Hutton had the puck hop over his stick at the blue line and allow Labanc a semi-breakaway.

It seems to be a common theme whenever Sorokin is in net, but he again kept New York in the game despite the severe offensive drought. As one Twitter user put it, the similarities between the lack of run support Jacob DeGrom got from the New York Mets and the lack of goals Sorokin has from the Islanders has been eery.

Where to go from Here: The New York Islanders will take the point, but it was far from an effort that they needed. The Islanders still stand 21 points back of the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals. They’re 14 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Wild Card spot. The Islanders needed the two points on Thursday night, but the one had some significance. The Islanders hadn’t picked up a point in the standings since Nov. 6 when they defeated the Winnipeg Jets.

Quotables: New York Islanders forwards Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal and defensemen Andy Greene and Adam Pelech spoke with reporters after the game.

“Any time you score on your first shift it lifts you and you feel good. It’s obviously nice just to get one here at UBS in front of our fans. It feels good and then we move on and it’s unfortunate we lost.” — Mathew Barzal on scoring right out of the gate. 

“It would be nice to obviously get a lead. I think that’s what you come to the game to try to do, so it’s been frustrating the last little while not really being able to take that next step and get us over the hump. Put us in a position where we are leading and we can kind of lock it down. It’s a little frustrating, but we’ll get there.” — Mathew Barzal on not being able to play with the lead for long periods of time at UBS Arena.

“I felt good tonight. I had my legs. I think our line started off really well and we felt good tonight. It was one of those nights where the chances were coming and we felt that and all we need was one more opportunity. One more puck and we were going to pop one. We just didn’t get that, but it’s a game we can build off of and the team as a whole can too.  — Anders Lee on his effort. 

“We just have to worry about the process of playing better and better. We have to. During our games here, our first four in this building we had a couple of games we didn’t give up a whole lot, but we didn’t get anything. We didn’t get a point and I thought we deserved two. … We’ve got another level in our game and we have to find it. I know the guys coming back from COVID want to get there. They want to do that and I’m sure as we get people back we’ll be able to tighten our game up a little bit.” — Barry Trotz on how he views Thursday’s game. 

Up Next: The New York Islanders will travel to Detroit to face the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena at 7 p.m.

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