The New York Islanders closed out their western road trip on a high note. After a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on March 14 and a 6-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks the following night, they overwhelmed the San Jose Sharks 4-1 in a dominant victory.
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The Islanders winning two of their three games on the road trip not only allowed them to maintain their playoff spot but also leap into the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The recent win was a reminder of why the Islanders are a playoff team and more importantly how they can finish the season as one of the best teams in the league. They stepped up in every facet of the game and for the second game in a row, proved they can win both with great defense and a strong offense.
Islanders Defense Helps Create Offense
Three of the Islanders’ four goals were created with shots from the blue line. Scott Mayfield’s shot was deflected by Kyle Palmieri, while Alexander Romanov had his shot redirected into the back of the net by Zach Parise. The only goal from the defensive unit was scored on a Ryan Pulock slap shot from the point, which was also the only power-play goal in the game.
The Islanders’ defense has cooled down from the point, especially since the start of the season when the defense was playing a pivotal role in the offensive zone. However, if the unit starts to step up from the point and add a spark from the point, the offense will drastically improve. The recent game was a reminder of what Pulock, Romanov, and Mayfield can bring to the offense, especially if they are willing to generate shots on the net.
Sorokin’s Strong Performance
After he allowed the first goal in the game, Ilya Sorokin was lights out. He made 29 saves on 30 shots and eliminated the Sharks’ offense in the second and third periods. The Sharks tried to make the game close and come back, but Sorokin closed out the game and secured the Islanders’ victory.
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Sorokin started all three games on the road trip and the message from head coach Lane Lambert was clear. All three games were must-win games and required elite goaltending. While Sorokin struggled in the loss to the Kings, he was remarkable otherwise. With the Islanders in a fight for a wild card spot, he may start the rest of the regular season games.
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