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The New York Islanders snapped their three-game losing streak last night, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4.
After a decent first five minutes, the Islanders started spending quite a bit of time in their own end as the period went along and even with possession, couldn’t consistently get clean exits. Despite a few good saves from Ilya Sorokin midway through the frame, the Penguins opened the scoring, as Sorokin couldn’t locate a puck that was under him, and Sidney Crosby tapped it in. However, Anders Lee did respond only shortly after on somewhat of a similar situation, as nobody could find the puck after a save from Casey DeSmith, and Lee was able to locate it, batting it off DeSmith and in to tie the game. So despite a less-than-stellar opening frame (where the Islanders were outshot 18-8), they escaped at a 1-1 tie.
New York came out flat in the second period though, giving up the first seven shots of the frame in the first few minutes, and Jake Guentzel put a puck through Scott Mayfield to Rickard Rakell for a redirect, putting the Penguins back up. The Islanders continued to look completely lifeless in the minutes that followed, just spending all their time in their own end, and Jason Zucker tipped in a point shot under two minutes later, making it a 3-1 game.
The Islanders still didn’t get a ton going as the period continued (despite a power play opportunity), but with about five minutes to go, Brock Nelson came in on a rush and beat DeSmith on a wraparound, cutting the lead to one. However, after a successful penalty kill later, it, Sidney Crosby found Rakell in front with an open net, to make it 4-2 Penguins. Only 35 seconds later though, Mathew Barzal made a nice move to open a lane, then his shot went in off Anders Lee, getting the Islanders back to within one through 40 minutes, following an eventful period.
Only five minutes into the third period, Brock Nelson wired a shot past DeSmith on a power play, tying the game for the Islanders. New York actually went on to put together a much stronger period from there, outshooting Pittsburgh through much of the frame. Then with under three minutes to go, Nelson made the difference yet again, delaying in front and sliding the puck to the side of the net where Zach Parise managed to whack it in, giving New York their first lead of the game. The Islanders managed to hang on from there, picking up a huge 5-4 win.
Obviously, it’s a massive win for the Islanders. With just about every game from now on counting as a must-win, dropping a fourth straight game would’ve been disastrous.
It certainly wasn’t New York’s best outing, looking flat for most of the first 40 minutes. They were outshot by a huge 37-18 margin through the first two periods and were lucky to still be in the game heading into the third.
At the same time, they battled back against a good team and picked up a win they desperately needed.
Brock Nelson and Anders Lee specifically kind of single handedly pulled this one off for New York offensively, each with two goals and an assist. The duo combined for nine shots and each of them had a goal that came largely from their own efforts.
So it's a good start for New York in terms of getting back into the playoff race, but there's still a long way to go.
The Islanders will be right back in action today with another tough task, as they face the Boston Bruins.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM FEBRUARY
Analyzing the Bo Horvat trade
Islanders sign Bo Horvat to eight-year contract extension
Islanders hold off Flyers in Bo Horvat’s debut
Islanders shut out Kraken, sweep back-to-back set
Looking at the Islanders’ path to the playoffs
Islanders suffer third period collapse in loss to Canucks
Islanders’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread as difficult stretch begins