Isles Pregame Notes
The New York Islanders hit the road to the Prudential Center in New Jersey to take on the Devils tonight. This game was rather significant, too. It wasn’t necessarily because of anything hockey-related, but a more real-world issue. This was the first time that either team has played in front of fans since the shutdown just under a year ago.
Semyon Varlamov was in net to start for the Islanders and Aaron Dell was in net for the Devils. Cal Clutterbuck was also back in the lineup and was re-inserted into the fourth line for the Isles with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin.
This period was very much an Islanders-style period. It is without a doubt that the Islanders had controlled the first.
The game began with a lot of chip-and-chase hockey. One team would gain control of the red line, dump the puck into the offensive zone, and then change out. There were very few shots in the early stages of the period; to be more precise, shots were 1-1 after almost five minutes.
As the first period rolled on, it appeared that the Islanders had gained their legs and were ready to leave the Devils behind. They were getting chance after chance from right around five minutes into the period onward.
The shining star of the first period had to be Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He had at least two prime opportunities to score the first goal of the night, but Dell shut him down on both occasions.
The Islanders also seemed to be getting to all of the loose pucks. It almost felt as if there were six or seven Islanders on the ice at all times for a while because of it.
The best chance for New York, aside from maybe the Pageau chances was when Ryan Pulock hit yet another post around halfway into the period. You could tell from anywhere in the Prudential Center that he hit the post, too. Man, it was loud.
The Isles also saw a chance on the powerplay as Dmitry Kulikov took a penalty for cross-checking. The powerplay didn’t amount to a whole lot for New York, though. It almost felt like the Islanders were afraid to get to the front of the net during the man advantage.
Isles outshot New Jersey 8-4 in the first twenty minutes.
In the second set of twenty minutes, the Devils came out strong, and the Islanders looked flat. It didn’t help that they were killing penalties for a majority of the start of the period.
The Devils ended up getting the first shot of the period, and from there, they ran the show. The Islanders took three penalties in short order, two of which led to a 5-on-3 penalty kill, which Varlamov was lights out on.
The Islanders managed to kill all 5:35 of penalty time for the period, but they were heavily outshot in that time, as seven minutes into the period, they were being outshot 9-1.
Aside from killing the penalties left, right, and sideways, the Islanders weren’t bad in the period, but momentum had clearly swung in favor of New Jersey.
The Devils were relatively quiet when it was 5-on-5, though, with their first real even-strength chance coming with just around two minutes left in the period.
The Isles were outshot 16-5 in the period, leaving them being outshot 20-13 in the game.
At the start of the third, the Islanders came out guns-a-blazing, really pushing for the first goal.
The Islanders then continued to apply constant pressure in the New Jersey zone. It was obvious that they wanted more.
From this point forward, the Islanders played their classic style of hockey: dump the puck into the offensive zone and move forward. It was very simple. Milk as much time off the clock and the Isles would get an easy victory.
New Jersey pulled Dell with right around four minutes left on the clock, and the Islanders hit two posts attempting to score on it, but they failed to put one home.
On a good note for the Devils, they scored to avoid the shutout at 19:46 elapsed in the period. Miles Wood got the goal, with assists coming from Yegor Sharangovich and Nikita Gusev. It was obviously too little, too late for New Jersey, though.
For the Islanders, this is a big win. In their twenty-second game of the year, they managed to gain a share of the lead in the division with 28 points, although the Capitals have games at hand on the Isles. Nevertheless, the Islanders continue to prove why they are a serious contender. Not only in the East division but for the Stanley Cup, as well.
1st Star: Semyon Varlamov – W, 28/29
2nd Star: Oliver Wahlstrom – G
3rd Star: Anders Lee – GWG