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The New York Islanders earned their third straight win yesterday, holding on for a 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
The Islanders were dealt not one, but two blows to their blue line just within the first few minutes of the game, as both Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho went to the locker room with injuries, quickly leaving New York with only four defenseman available.
Then midway through the frame, with the Islanders killing a penalty, Drake Batherson took a pass from Brady Tkachuk and put a shot off Semyon Varlamov and in, to open the scoring. Ottawa had another quick chance to extend the lead right afterwards as well, but Varlamov denied Rourke Chartier on a 2-on-1.
However, only a few minutes later, Brock Nelson won an offensive zone faceoff and the puck got back to Alexander Romanov for a point shot, with the rebound buried by Kyle Palmieri to tie the game. New York ended up having a bit of momentum from there, but it died when they ended up killing another penalty late, and the period ended 1-1.
Then in the second period, it looked like the Senators took the lead off a goal from Parker Kelly, but upon a coach’s challenge, it was called back for offside. Then only shortly after, the tables turned when Oliver Wahlstrom tipped in a shot from the point, with the Islanders jumping ahead instead.
Then only a few minutes later, New York managed to capitalize on a power play, with Mathew Barzal beating Anton Forsberg with a well-placed shot, to extend the lead to 3-1. Then only six seconds after that, the Islanders went right back down ice off the next faceoff, and Anders Lee beat Forsberg as well, to quickly make it a 4-1 game out of nowhere.
Ottawa got one back only a minute later though, with Noah Dobson turning a puck over behind his net and Tim Stutzle getting a chance in front, cutting the lead to 4-2. The scoring kept coming under a minute after that, with the Senators causing more issues on the forecheck, and Drake Batherson beating Varlamov for his second goal of the game, to quickly cut the lead back down to a single goal.
The Islanders called their timeout after that, and the period settled down a little from there. Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a breakaway chance late but couldn’t convert, and it remained 4-3 Islanders through 40 minutes.
New York managed to re-extend the lead about five minutes into the third period though, with Noah Dobson’s point shot redirecting off Simon Holmstrom in front, making it 5-3.
Otawa did have their chances from there, with a power play opportunity later in the frame, before pulling their goalie. But with a couple big saves by Varlamov, New York held on, taking a 5-3 win over the Senators.
The win marks the third straight victory for the Islanders, as they improve to an 8-6-5 record. It did look like the team was about to blow another multi-goal lead when they gave up the two quick goals after pulling ahead, but they were able to settle things down and started limiting chances from there.
Obviously, the Islanders’ four remaining defensemen deserve a ton of credit, playing essentially the entire game down two men. Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov both passed 30 minutes in ice time, while Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield were close behind.
At the same time, the injuries to Adam Pelech, as well as Sebastian Aho, are a big concern. Pelech has already been placed on long-term injured reserve and especially as the Islanders try to string together some momentum, it’s pretty brutal news.
For a positive: it’s the second game in a row where the third line looked good and this time, the results really showed. The line had two goals, and have now outshot their opponents by a 17-3 margin at 5-on-5 over the last two games, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. Oliver Wahlstrom was doing a great job chasing down pucks and creating some turnovers in the offensive zone, while Anders Lee has now scored three goals over his last four games. While the Islanders have struggled to establish a good third line so far, hopefully, this marks the turning point.
New York also picked up another goal on the power play, as the somewhat unexpected success continued. The Islanders now have the ninth-ranked power play in the NHL, after years of operating at a very low rate.
With the win, the Islanders improve to the ninth-best points percentage in the Eastern Conference, with the three-game win streak putting them right back in the playoff mix early on.
They'll be back in action for the second half of their back-to-back tonight, as they host the Philadelphia Flyers once again.
NOTE: The Islanders have since claimed defenseman Mike Reilly off waivers from the Florida Panthers. Reilly played just two games with the Panthers this season and is on a one-year contract.
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
- Islanders’ losing streak at five games after loss to Oilers
- Isles blow leads in both games of back-to-back as penalty kill struggles
- Islanders snap seven-game losing streak with shootout win over Flames
- Islanders hang on for home win over Flyers