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The New York Islanders fell 4-1 to the Edmonton Oilers in the first game of their Western Conference road trip last night, marking the team's fifth straight loss.
The matchup was also Kris Knoblauch’s first game as head coach of the Oilers, after Jay Woodcroft was fired.
Oliver Wahlstrom came back into action on the third line in place of Hudson Fasching, while Julien Gauthier replaced Matt Martin. Meanwhile, Adam Pelech came back into the lineup, resulting in Sebastian Aho moving back down the defense group and Samuel Bolduc being scratched. Ilya Sorokin got the start in goal.
The Islanders couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, opening the scoring under a minute into the game, when Mathew Barzal took a pass in the slot from Bo Horvat to beat Stuart Skinner.
Then a little later in the frame, Cal Clutterbuck had a great chance to extend the lead on a 2-on-1, putting a shot off Skinner and off the post, but it stayed out.
However, Edmonton started pressing later on, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins getting a good opportunity that went off the post, before Evander Kane had a chance in front. Then soon afterwards, Leon Draisaitl came down the wing and beat Sorokin, tying the game.
The period ended at 1-1, and while it was a really good opening 10 minutes for the Islanders, the Oilers woke up a little in the back half of the frame.
New York then had a power play early on in the second period but couldn’t get much going, though they did end up putting together a pretty solid frame overall. While it wasn’t a wildly eventful period, New York did have the better chances, and sustained more momentum than the Oilers, but couldn't manage to pull back ahead.
Despite a relatively even first stretch of the final frame, the Oilers ended up on a power play about eight minutes in, and Zach Hyman was able to bury the puck in-close, to put Edmonton ahead. Then right afterwards, Ryan Pulock sent the puck over the glass to put the Oilers right back on another power play, and Connor McDavid came in on a rush and managed to squeak a puck through Ilya Sorokin, to extend the lead to 3-1.
New York did have a good opportunity to try to get back into the game late in the third period with a power play, but barely even got into Edmonton’s end before Evander Kane went back down ice to score an empty netter, handing the Islanders their fifth straight loss.
Similar to the loss on Saturday against the Washington Capitals, the Islanders actually did get off to a pretty good start, and were the better team early. Even into the second period, while there weren’t a ton of good chances being exchanged, New York did have the higher volume of opportunities.
But stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Islanders can’t score, and it wasn’t a full 60-minute effort.
Even though New York may have been the better team through 40 minutes, other than a stretch of time in the first period, we didn’t see many high-danger chances. Then in the third period, the back-to-back penalties ended up costing them, where two quick goals basically sunk their chances.
The second line looked good, as Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri alone combinined for 16 shots. However, the new-look third line of Lee-Pageau-Wahlstrom – despite actually looking pretty good as a unit on paper – didn’t get a ton going. We’ll probably see the line mix-and-matching continue, but hopefully it doesn’t affect the top-six.
So that’s now six goals scored in the last four games for the Islanders, as they fall below .500 to just a 5-6-3 record. At this point, they have the second-fewest wins in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The road trip continues with another game tomorrow, as Bo Horvat returns to Vancouver to face the 11-3-1 Canucks.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM NOVEMBER
- Blown leads, reliance on goaltending are issues on Islanders' point streak
- Islanders’ point streak ends in home loss to Wild
- Islanders on three-game skid following loss to Bruins
- Islanders’ skid extends to four games after losing 4-1 to Capitals