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Isles blow leads in both games of back-to-back as penalty kill struggles

November 18, 2023, 2:44 AM ET [77 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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The New York Islanders’ losing streak is now at seven games, after dropping both games of their road back-to-back to the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken.


The Islanders came out strong against the Canucks and despite Oliver Wahlstrom being denied on a great chance early, New York opened the scoring on a power play a little later, when Pierre Engvall’s shot redirected past Thatcher Demko. Then after going back on the man advantage only a minute later, Brock Nelson managed to ramp a puck over Demko, quickly making it a 2-0 game.

New York got into huge penalty trouble from there though, taking six penalties across the back 40 minutes of regulation. The Canucks got on the board on a power play of their own early in the second period, when J.T. Miller beat Ilya Sorokin off a great pass from Elias Pettersson. New York did reinstate the two-goal lead shortly after, when Quinn Hughes turned the puck over on an exit and Bo Horvat was able to score against his former team, but Vancouver once again cut the lead to one only minutes later on yet another power play goal, this time from Brock Boeser.

Then despite New York killing a penalty early in the third period, on the tail-end of a long 5-on-3 later, Filip Hronek wired a shot through traffic from the point for Vancouver’s third power play goal of the game, erasing the Islanders’ lead.

Then as the game continued to overtime, the Islanders got lost with their coverage, and Quinn Hughes took a breakaway pass to go in alone and beat Sorokin with a great shot, winning it for the Canucks.


Last night, the Islanders managed to open the scoring on a power play early, when Bo Horvat put as pass to Anders Lee in front, to put New York ahead about four minutes into the game. However, the Kraken responded with a power play goal of their own only about six minutes later, as Matty Beniers beat Semyon Varlamov with a perfect wrist shot, tying the game. The special teams goals continued from there, with Alexander Wennberg burying a pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand on another Kraken power play late in the period, for Seattle to take a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes.

After the teams traded unsuccessful power plays in the first half of the period, the game opened up quite a bit in the back half, with both teams getting some great chances off the rush. While the Kraken had the bulk of the opportunities, it was the Islanders who managed to tie the game, as Casey Cizikas took a pass from Mathew Barzal to go five-hole in alone.

Special teams was the story in the third period once again, as Noah Dobson wired a point shot past Philipp Grubauer on a power play to put New York ahead under two minutes into the frame. However, the Kraken responded with yet another power play goal of their own, with Kailer Yamamoto deking Varlamov in-close to tie the game again.

In the extra frame, we didn’t see many chances at all, but Bo Horvat did have a breakaway opportunity where he couldn’t convert. As the game continued to a shootout and none of the first 3 skaters could score, Bo Horvat beat Grubauer with a perfect shot to put the Islanders ahead. A save from Semyon Varlamov could win it, but Oliver Bjorkstrand beat Varlamov with a great shot to extend it. Simon Holmstrom then lost the puck with a chance to end it after that, and the shootout continued.

After two more scoreless rounds, ex-Islander Jordan Eberle roofed a shot over Varlamov, putting the pressure on Oliver Wahlstrom to extend it, only for Wahlstrom to beat Grubauer clean. Another scoreless round ensued, but Kailer Yamamoto did manage to beat Varlamov in the eighth round, and with Noah Dobson needing to score, Grubauer came up with the save, to hand the Islanders their seventh straight loss.

There were some clear similarities between the games, with the first of those being the blown leads. It’s already been an issue for New York early on this season, and with opportunities to lock down the game in both contests, they failed.

The biggest factor both in New York’s offense, as well as the goals they allowed, was the special teams battle. On a positive, it was great to see the Islanders’ power play actually clicking. They went 4-for-7 on the power play across the two games, and with very limited scoring this year, getting going on the man advantage is a huge step for their offense.

At the same time, their ‘penalty kill’ was almost useless. The Islanders successfully killed just four of their 10 penalties across the two games, with every single regulation goal allowed coming on a power play. As of now, the team’s penalty kill ranks 31st in the league, operating at a terrible 68 percent.

Part of this too is the Islanders just can’t win in overtime or a shootout. This season, the Islanders have lost all five of their games that have gone past regulation. That’s not something new either: across the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, the team won just nine of their 28 games that went past regulation.

When it gets down to 3-on-3, speed and finishing ability become key, and New York doesn’t have enough of either. Other than Mathew Barzal, New York doesn’t have many players who can attack with speed, and Barzal himself can also hesitate to shoot. Then if it gets to a shootout, the Islanders have few options for players who can really throw off a goalie with a good deke, and often resort to just shooting and trying to find a hole.

New York was also outshot 75-56 over the two games, which doesn’t paint an overly promising picture. While they put together good stretches, again, there have just been so few complete games this season.

The top line did put together a good game in Vancouver, but they weren’t nearly as effective last night. Meanwhile the third line of Lee-Pageau-Wahlstrom got outshot by a combined margin of 15-3 at 5-on-5, according to NaturalStatTrick.com

The Islanders will end off their road trip tomorrow against the Calgary Flames, who are heating up at the wrong time for New York, with a 4-1-1 record over their last six games.


- 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
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