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Three Islanders Takeaways: Lines Roll in Bounce Back Win over Boston



The New York Islanders were victorious over the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-1 on Thursday night. Here are three takeaways from the win.

Identity Line Continues Strong Play

The Islanders’ fourth line had struggled mightily this season. Since being reunited following a COVID stint for Casey Cizikas and a nagging injury for Matt Martin, the identity line has found their game again. They looked the best they have looked this entire season in the win over Boston Thursday night.

“The identity line was playing to their identity, they were physical today and got rewarded.” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said following the win.

That physicality was on display from the opening face-off, which that line was tasked with starting the game. Martin made quick work laying a big hit to get the contest started. On the same shift, Cizikas laid a hit of his own. This line’s work ethic was a catalyst for the rest of the group, as New York built off their hard work throughout the opening frame.

The identity line combined for eight hits in the contest.

At 11:47 of the first period, Cal Clutterbuck got New York on the board after hard work by Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin down low.

This goal served as a major momentum booster for an Islander team that has struggled to hold on to leads this season. The identity line continued to work for the entirety of the contest, helping to hold onto the momentum.

In the second period, Martin dropped the gloves with Nick Foligno, which just added more momentum to an already soaring UBS Arena crowd.

The ability to have the fourth line play to the level expected in back-to-back contests is a really strong sign for an Islander team looking to crawl their way out of the hole they are in, in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Second Line Bounces Back:

On Thursday night, New York got a strong effort from Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey. They were dangerous for what seemed like the first time all season long and looked to be back to their old ways.

 “Yeah it felt good,” Bailey said. “Obviously, there is a lot of familiarity with the three of us. That was a step in the right direction. I think the main focus for us is just doing what we can to help the team win.”

Time after time, the second line cycled in the offensive zone, and while they only combined for a total of five shots, it was a much stronger showing than what they displayed in the 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.

Beauvillier was the strongest player on the line, as he made heads-up plays in the defensive zone, pressuring Boston puck carriers. His skating ability was on display throughout the contest as he used his edges to make quick movements to break away from pressure.

“Obviously, I’ve been kinda grinding to find my game lately,” Beauvillier said. “Last two games have been good. Definitely, a wake-up call, see the positive of it (being a healthy scratch). Just go out there and play and try to win battles and win games for my teammates.”

“It’s been my mentality the last couple of games.”

Nelson, despite not scoring, had a willingness to let shots go and looked more like himself.

Bailey, who has struggled mightily this season, looked sharper tonight. He got rid of the puck a bit quicker, which helped with transitioning out of the defensive zone. He still made a few mistakes, but Beauvillier and Nelson’s play helped him tremendously.

The Islanders need to see secondary scoring from the second line moving forward. But at the very least, need to see them controlling pace of play when they are on the rink, rather than fending off opponent chances in their own zone.

Wahlstrom Shines on Top Line

Oliver Wahlstrom finally got his chance to play on the Islanders’ top line this season. Although it was not alongside Mat Barzal, who is currently in COVID-19 protocol, he looked like a perfect fit alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anders Lee.

Wahlstrom played 15:30 minutes, his highest mark over his last five contests. The 21-year old recorded three shots on goal at even-strength, as well as a hit. Most importantly, Wahlstrom did not try to force anything, as he ended the night with zero turnovers.

The movement to the top line seemed to give Wahlstrom an added boost of confidence, as he made some creative moves to create offensive chances for his team.

But it was not just his play in the offensive zone that garnered attention.

Wahlstrom could be seen at times deep in the defensive zone, doing what he could without the puck to limit chances on goal.

For a youngster like Wahlstrom, he needs to earn every chance he gets under Trotz. With the way he played Thursday night, it would be a good assumption that he will find himself back in the top right-wing spot when the Islanders face the Golden Knights on Sunday.

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