For the primary time in additional than 4 months, the Islanders have a regulation successful streak — and every time, the second win got here towards the Jets.
After shutting out the Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Islanders, behind two targets from Josh Bailey and 27 saves by Semyon Varlamov, defeated the Jets 5-2 at UBS Arena on Friday evening.
It had been 125 days from Nov. 6 to March 11 — a size of time that felt like eternity for this group — for the reason that Islanders gained two in a row in regulation. In between, they suffered a crushing COVID-19 outbreak, an 11-game shedding streak and a season that shifted tones from triumphant to preventing towards the present to counting down to nothing.
In that sense, Friday’s victory — and each different one from now till this principally joyless journey ends on April 29 — was pyrrhic. In the extra literal sense, although, the Islanders can take some happiness from the long-awaited successful streak. At 23-24-8, they is perhaps taking part in for satisfaction, however satisfaction isn’t nugatory.
Nor is the truth that over their past two video games, the Islanders have outscored their opposition 11-2 and perhaps began to look somewhat bit just like the workforce they need to be.
“We’re playing better,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz stated. “Let’s face it, we’re playing more to our identity. … That has to feel good. Let’s call it what it is, it’s been a rotten year for us in terms of where we wanted to be and all that.”
After Friday, Brock Nelson has scored in 4 straight. Anders Lee has a three-game purpose streak, and has lit the lamp six occasions in that span. Noah Dobson has six assists in 5 video games and is driving the facility play, with a secondary nod on Nelson’s first interval purpose on Friday. Even Bailey has three targets in two video games. Mathew Barzal and Zdeno Chara, too, are again within the lineup.
“I think through the course of the year, we’ve been able to play a certain way, play well and win games that we should win against good teams and we show up the next night and we don’t play the same way,” Cal Clutterbuck stated. “We don’t have the identical kind of element and depth of our sport.
“I think it’s kind of been the story of the year so far.”
At least for now, the Islanders are bucking the development.
Even after they performed the second interval on Friday principally in their very own zone, they allowed simply 9 photographs on web throughout these 20 minutes. And, thanks to targets from Lee and Bailey 40 seconds aside inside the first two minutes of the interval — each cleansing up rebounds within the crease — they went into the second intermission with a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Jets didn’t go down and not using a combat. Blake Wheeler made it a 3-2 sport simply 20 seconds into the third interval, depositing a rebound into the Islanders’ web. But Bailey’s second purpose, backhanded in from Adam Pelech’s rebound at 7:14, gave the Islanders a consolation zone. Clutterbuck’s empty-netter with 4:44 to go within the sport sealed the win.
“It was like, OK, it’s a one-goal game,” Trotz stated of the mindset following Wheeler’s purpose. “Let’s win.”
Nelson scored his team-leading twenty third purpose on a one-timer from the appropriate circle at 6:23 of the primary, with Anthony Beauvillier offering the cross-ice help.
Though the Islanders performed a usually sturdy first 20 minutes, Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech had been caught too far up ice in a sequence main to a Winnipeg 2-on-0, which Kyle Connor simply put away to tie the rating at one at 16:58 of the primary.
If Thursday and Friday do mark some type of a return to kind, it’s all however actually too late to make any distinction in how the season ends or how it’s remembered. That, nevertheless, doesn’t preclude the Islanders from being proud of it.
“We were skating,” Trotz stated. “We were managing the puck, we were playing with some pace and we’re getting rewarded for it.”
Under no circumstances may the Islanders have seen this season lasting till the center of March earlier than they picked up two straight regulation wins at UBS Arena. That is mirrored within the dwindling crowds and dropping ticket costs.
But this workforce nonetheless thinks it might discover one thing to salvage. It gained’t be the playoffs, but when it performs like this persistently, perhaps it might.