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The New York Islanders picked up a key win in their first game back after the All-Star Break, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 last night.
Bo Horvat made his Islanders’ debut, while Noah Dobson returned to action and Semyon Varlamov got the start.
The Islanders were buzzing in the first minute and almost had an early lead as a result of Carter Hart kicking a puck behind him towards the goal line, but it was swept away at the last second by Ivan Provorov. New York did have a power play afterwards, but after not getting a ton going, they
ended up allowing a couple different odd-man rushes that nearly left them in an early deficit. New York did have chances after that, with Simon Holmstrom putting a shot off the bar from in-close later and ended up outshooting the Flyers 15-7 in the opening frame. Then with under three minutes to go in the period, the Islanders did end up scoring a much-needed power play goal, with Kyle Palmieri beating Hart with a nice shot from a pretty tough angle, putting New York ahead through 20 minutes.
After killing a penalty of their own early in the second period, Mathew Barzal ended up extending the Islanders’ lead later in the frame, redirecting a perfect pass from Noah Dobson in-close. However, the Flyers got one back right away, with Tony DeAngelo firing a shot on net that was tipped in by Nicolas Deslauriers. New York didn’t generate a lot of offense after that (despite having a third power play opportunity), and were outshot in the frame, bit remained up a goal heading into the second intermission.
The Islanders weren't able to get a ton going in the final frame, but did a really good job shutting down offense for the Flyers and didn’t give up much the one time they were shorthanded. New York managed to hang on from there, picking up a key 2-1 win.
While the Islanders did slow down a bit after a really strong first period, but this was an important win. If New York hopes to find their way the playoffs, games against opponents like the Flyers are basically a must-win.
Horvat looked good, especially in the first period, getting some good chances around the net. He registered four shots on goal and had the second-most ice time of any forward on the team, only behind Mathew Barzal.
Given Barzal’s playmaking ability and Horvat’s scoring touch, this duo could work out really well for New York (and we saw glimpses of what they could do at times last night). The one worry though is that opponents will know that Barzal is going to be looking to find Horvat when he has the puck, and it seemed like Philadelphia’s defense was picking up on this a bit as the game went on.
While the Islanders’ power play didn’t look a whole lot better last night, they did manage to convert once. The team’s man advantage still sits 30th in the league.
Given Oliver Wahlstrom and Cal Clutterbuck are out indefinitely, the Islanders are basically as healthy as they’re going to get within the foreseeable future. As a result, we’re going to find out pretty quickly whether or not this lineup will be capable of pushing for the playoffs.
It’ll be a tougher test for the Islanders tonight, as they host the Seattle Kraken.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM FEBRUARY
Analyzing the Bo Horvat trade
Islanders sign Bo Horvat to eight-year contract extension