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WASH’D AWAY! Islanders Blow Three Goal Lead in Ugly Loss to Capitals

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New York Islanders fall to the Capitals

If Tuesday’s New York Islanders loss to the Washington Capitals was heartbreaking, then Thursday’s could be described as gutwrenching.

Washington scored five goals in the second period to erase a 3-0 Islanders lead and hand the Isles their third consecutive loss, 6-3. Thursday was the second time under head coach Barry Trotz that the Islanders had allowed Washington to score five goals in a single period.

The last time they did so was on Jan. 18, 2020, when Washington scored five in the third period to erase a 4-1 Islanders lead.

“It’s a tough one because we didn’t play that poorly for probably 50 minutes of that game,” Trotz said. “Then the two, three-minute span we were just average. Below average, if you will. Pucks went in. The one thing that they did is they shot pucks and went to the net.”

The current loss moves the Islanders to 3-4-0 through their first seven games and they are 0-3-0 in the first three games of their five-game road trip. They sit seventh in the East Division only ahead of the New York Rangers.

“I think you go through ups and downs during a year,” Scott Mayfield said. “This one seems pretty low right now. Whether it’s just different reads that are popping in the back of the net or they’re finishing good plays. The long shifts, not getting the puck out, icing and stuff like that you just can’t do that against a good team.”

It looked as though the Trotz’s lineup changes had sparked the Islanders on Tuesday. The Islanders bench boss did some roster gymnastics to get Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows into the lineup while having to move Ilya Sorokin over to the taxi squad.

The move looked as though it had worked with the Islanders scoring three goals — two of which came in the span of 18 seconds — in the first period. The Islanders generated chances and outshot Washington 10-8 after 20 minutes.

Oliver Wahlstrom recorded his first career NHL goal, Anders Lee scored in his 500th NHL game and Casey Cizikas found the pack of the net for his first of the season. Things had looked up, until the second period began and the ice shifted dramatically.

“We had a great start. We got to our game right away and did what we wanted to do in that first period,” Anders Lee said. “The second period we had a pretty bad lapse and that’s what turned the game around completely. At the same time we’re looking at it as plenty of hockey to get ourselves into it. Not dissimilar to how they clawed themselves back. We just weren’t able to find the first one to get us going and it turns into a bad loss.”

Connor Sheary led the way for the Washington comeback with their first two goals of the game in the second period starting at the 9:07 mark. Garnet Hathaway tied the game at 11:11 after Carl Hagelin sprung him with an alley-oop pass.

Hathaway was able to beat Islanders starter Semyon Varlamov with a wrist shot from just inside the right faceoff circle.

Washington took their first lead of the game at 14:16 of the second while on the power play. Adam Pelech flubbed a clearing attempt, which allowed Washington to regroup and set up John Carlson for the go-ahead goal.

Zdeno Chara made it a 5-3 game with a shot that got by Varlamov at 18:30 of the second. Tom Wilson scored on the empty net with 16.5 left in the game.

Wahlstrom had given the Islanders the early lead 9:50 into the game. The Islanders charged into the offensive zone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau passed the puck to the wing for Wahlstrom, who flung the puck at the net and had his shot ricochet off two Washington players and into the net.

Wahlstrom was making his season debut on Thursday night in Washington.

“It was just great to see Wahlly put one in,” Lee said. “You always remember your first. It’s a special moment. A lot of hard work. It takes a lot to get to this point. It’s an awesome thing for him and his family. We’re all happy and excited for him, and obviously, we wish we were celebrating that goal a little bit more with a win.”

The Islanders added to the lead 18 seconds later when a shot by Clutterbuck was redirected by Cizikas. The shot from the point hit off of Cizikas’ stick at the right angle to sneak by the pad of Vitek Vanecek to put the Islanders up 1-0.

New York’s third goal came on the Isles’ second power play of the period. Anders Lee was in the right spot to clean up a loose puck that had been put on net by Mathew Barzal.

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[…] WASH’D AWAY! Islanders Blow Three Goal Lead in Ugly Loss to Capitals […]

[…] The Islanders got out to a 3-0 when the first period came to a close last night. But the Capitals stormed back with six unanswered goals to win 6-3. (NYI Hockey Now) […]

[…] The New York Islanders blew a three-goal lead to the Washington Capitals. Three?! (NYI Hockey Now) […]

[…] The night went far from how Varlamov and the Islanders envision. The Russian netminder surrendered five goals on the way to a 6-3 loss. […]

[…] dropped games to New Jersey and two against Washington on their first lengthy road trip of the season. Now they have to face a Philadelphia team that has […]

New York Islanders

Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Tops Buffalo … Again

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Islanders sweep Sabres

No, this is not a copy-and-paste job from the past two games. The New York Islanders did in fact beat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, for the third straight game on Sunday afternoon.

It was again a second period of dominance for the Islanders, who rattled off three goals to take a commanding lead they would never relinquish.

In what has probably felt like Groundhog Day for Buffalo, it was another game of missed opportunities and a (mostly) quiet effort from its superstars. The Islanders now move to 10-0-2 at Nassau Coliseum this season as they’ve continually dominated on home ice.

Let’s take a dive into what went right and wrong for the Islanders in this Plus/Minus breakdown.

 

Plus

Anders Lee: O Captain! My Captain! 

Anders Lee has made a home office for himself in front of the net throughout his career. In 2021, he’s continued that theme and thrived in the dirty areas.

His goal 5:13 into the second period Sunday gave him a goal in back-to-back games and points in four straight contests. Now with a team-leading 12 goals this season, he’s on pace to top his 20 in 68 games from last season.

Every hockey coach will wax poetic on the importance of net-front presence, and the Islanders have one of the best forwards in the game to establish control in front of the crease. Just look at the consistency from this NBCSN graphic. Teams would be best served making sure Lee doesn’t get any space in front of the goalie. This isn’t exactly a new trend, but Lee uses his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame to his advantage.

Second period dominance: Part II

One day after the Islanders scored four in the middle period, they punched across three in the second. Lee, Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas all scored in what felt like a sequel to Saturday’s onslaught.

SUNDAY FUNDAY! Islanders Complete Sweep of Sabres with Third Straight 5-2 Victory

Nelson, who’s now scored in two straight, seems to finally be hitting his stride. Although five of his eight goals this year have come on the power play, his last two have come at even strength, a welcome sign for the Islanders and their scoring depth. Overall, he’s recorded a point in three straight games.

The Islanders as a team had seven high danger chances for and one allowed in the second period, which led to a gaudy 74.84 expected goals for percentage. The analytics matched with the eye test and the results.

Fourth line does it again

Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck each had a point in Saturday’s win and both were key in Sunday’s follow-up.

Clutterbuck’s goal just past the halfway mark in the third was especially important as the Sabres pressured and made it a one-goal game. Off a Brandon Davidson turnover at the blue line, Clutterbuck took the puck in all alone, used a forehand to backhand move and roofed a goal just under the bar and over Jonas Johansson’s blocker.

The fourth line was all over the scoresheet in the three-game sweep over the Sabres. Matt Martin scored twice Thursday, Clutterbuck added two over the last two games and Cizikas added one Sunday.

Yes, the Sabres are far and away the worst team in the league right now, but getting scoring depth is still important for the Islanders.

Minus

Shaky third, uneven Sorokin

Down 3-0, the Sabres showed enough pushback to get into the game in the third period and did thanks to goals from Jeff Skinner and Colin Miller. For a brief second after Miller’s goal, it was a close 3-2 game and Buffalo conceivably stayed in the game had it not been for Clutterbuck’s back-breaking goal.

Sorokin wasn’t really tested through the first two periods and wasn’t as his best in the final 20 minutes. Miller’s goal was a weak one he’d like to have back, with the puck just sliding under the netminder’s arm. Sorokin did recover to make a strong save on Skinner later in the period to keep the Sabres at two goals, but it definitely was not the best period for the rookie. In the end, he did stop 24 of 26 shots.

But had it not been for Scott Mayfield saving a loose puck near the goal line late in the third period, it likely would’ve been three goals for Buffalo.

Skinner gets off the schneid

It was going to happen eventually, but Skinner scoring his first goal of the year has to fall into the negative category for the Islanders. Buffalo’s top forwards (Skinner, Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall) have notably been quiet this season.

It was a great individual effort going from behind the net to roofing a backhander from near the crease, but when a skater hasn’t scored in over 365 days, you get a minus for allowing that to change, as nit-picky as that might be.

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New York Islanders

SUNDAY FUNDAY! Islanders Complete Sweep of Sabres with Third Straight 5-2 Victory

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New York Islanders win

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Buffalo  Sabres showed some life, but the New York Islanders held them off in the end and wrapped up a three-game set with Buffalo with a 5-2 win on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum.

Cal Clutterbuck came up with the most important goal of the afternoon, scoring with 7:03 left in the game and Buffalo carrying the momentum after pulling within one of the Isles. Clutterbuck was able to corral the puck after Matt Martin had flipped it out of the Islanders’ end.

Buffalo defenseman Brandon Davidson fell as he tried to keep up with Clutterbuck, which gave the Islanders forward a clear path to the net to score. Brock Nelson scored on the empty net at 17:48 to seal the win.

“It was a big goal,” Clutterbuck said about the play. “I just saw Marty flip a puck out and made a really good play under pressure. The puck took a bounce and I was fortunate enough to change directions… It worked out.”

It was the third consecutive game that the Islanders had defeated their Western New York foe by a 5-2 final. Sunday was the final meeting between the two teams on Long Island.

New York and Buffalo play two more times in the final week of the regular season at KeyBank Center.

“You see them three times in a row, all in our building,” Lee said. “It’s a mini-series. That third game is tough, especially on a back-to-back, and we knew that coming in. We did a real good job sticking to our game.”

The New York Islanders extended their hold of the East Division with Sunday’s win. They now sit four points ahead of the Washington Capitals, who are in action against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The Islanders took possession of the top spot in the division on Friday after Washington fell to the Boston Bruins.

Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas each scored on Sunday, and Nelson recorded his first two-goal game of the season. Ilya Sorokin picked up his fourth NHL win in goal, making 24 saves against Buffalo.

It was Sorokin’s seventh start this season.

“It’s tough to beat any team,” Nelson said. “These guys have a lot of weapons. Any team can beat anyone… so every game is going to be different every day…. We did a good job taking it one day at a time.”

Lee got the Islanders onto the board early in the second period with a redirection goal from in front of the net. Jordan Eberle sent a pass to Lee from the side of the net and the Islanders captain was able to put the puck past Buffalo starter Jonas Johansson at 5:13.

Just over a minute later the Islanders had made it a two-goal lead.

Oliver Wahlstrom was able to drive the puck into the offensive zone and then feed Nelson in the high slot. Nelson quickly got off a wrist shot that beat Johansson to make it a 2-0 game.

The goal extended Nelson’s point streak to three games and Sunday was the second consecutive game that Nelson had scored in.

The Islanders added to their lead late in the second when Cizikas scored off an impressive pass from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Islanders’ third line centerman backhanded a pass from the goal line over to Cizikas, who had been parked in front of the Buffalo Net.

Cizikas picked up his fourth point (one goal, three assists) in his last three games on the play and Pageau recorded his 200th career NHL assist.

Buffalo found some life in the third period to make things interesting. Jeff Skinner scored his first goal of the year at 5:41 of the final frame to break up Sorokin’s shutout bid.

Colin Miller pulled  Buffalo within one goal of the Islanders at the 9:35 mark of the third period.

Sunday’s game was nationally televised on NBC as part of Hockey Day in America. Lee and Nelson are both American-born and scored the first two goals of the game.

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New York Islanders

Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Rolls Over Buffalo Again | NYHN+

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Islanders celebrate goal against sabres

Another day, another 5-2 win for the New York Islanders against the Buffalo Sabres. It might not have been the prettiest start in the world, but the Islanders rolled with four goals in the second period to extend their point streak to seven games. “I don’t think we were sluggish,” Barry Trotz said of the…

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