March 23, 2023

The New York Islanders needed a win like their recent one. After losing 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings to snap their win streak and poor play through two periods, they came back against the Calgary Flames, scoring three unanswered goals to win 4-3 in overtime.

Related: 5 Takeaways From New York Islanders 5-2 Win vs. Blues – 11/3/22

This isn’t the first time the Islanders came back late in a game to win this season and probably won’t be the last. Against the Colorado Avalanche, they trailed 3-0 but with five unanswered goals, including two goals in 17 seconds, they came back to win 5-4.

Likewise, the Islanders’ comeback was highlighted by two quick goals, with both coming less than a minute apart, and it allowed them to flip a game where they otherwise looked defeated. The win not only showed that the team is going to remain a good one that can compete in the Eastern Conference but also proved that they can overcome any deficit.

Dobson’s Game Winner

The Islanders’ defenseman with the most goals and assists this season has been Noah Dobson, as he has four goals and five assists. The Flames saw firsthand how dynamic he is from the point as he scored the game-winning goal in overtime.

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With the Islanders controlling the puck in the offensive zone on a 4-on-3 power play, Dobson got the puck with an open look on the net. With a quick slapshot, he scored the fourth goal of the night for the team and completed the comeback. Last season, the Islanders saw how Dobson at the blue line can often create a scoring chance and an open shot when there might not appear to be one. Moreover, if he finds open ice in the offensive zone he can particularly impact the offense, as he was able to against the Flames.

This season, Dobson is building off his breakout 2021-22 campaign where he scored 13 goals and 38 assists and looked like one of the best overall players on the Islanders. The recent game was only another step in his ascent as one of the best young defensemen in the league.

Barzal Continues to Fuel Offense

Mathew Barzal has yet to score a goal this season. However, with 14 assists in 13 games, he is a point-per-game player. The recent game showed why he is not only the most impactful player for the Islanders’ offense but also how he helps it thrive.

Mathew Barzal New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The top-line center contributed three assists and led the Islanders in points in the 4-3 win. Barzal often receives criticism for not taking as many shots as other elite players, but his passing ability and vision to find open skaters have made him stand out, especially this season. Along with assisting on the game-winner, Barzal allowed defenseman Sebastian Aho to find the back of the net with a great cross-ice pass in the offensive zone.

Additionally, the Islanders played against the Flames with a short bench after Cal Clutterbuck left the game early with an injury. It was the second time in four games that they played with a short bench with the team defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 after Casey Cizikas took a game misconduct penalty. They needed a forward to step up and take on a larger role and Barzal helped take on that responsibility. His 24:01 ice time led all skaters in the game and he helped carry the team in the comeback win.

Lee Finds His Spot

In the two-goal third period, the Islanders needed a spark and got one from one of their best goal-scorers. Throughout Anders Lee’s career, he has made his mark in the offensive zone specifically as a finisher. Whether it’s waiting for the puck to find him in the slot or finding the back of the net on a second-chance shot near the crease, he has proven he can and will get the tough, hard-fought goals for the Islanders.

Anders Lee New York Islanders
Anders Lee, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Islanders carried the puck on a four-man rush, something that has been heavily influenced by Lane Lambert since he took over as head coach, Brock Nelson found an open shot, forcing Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom out of position. The rebound opportunity gave Lee a quick scoring chance and he sparked the rally by cutting the Flames’ lead to one and providing a much-needed spark to the offense. Lee has a team-high seven goals on the season and has been a pivotal part of the offense and the team’s success altogether.

Sorokin’s Strong Night

Allowing three goals would seem like a disappointment for any goaltender, especially one of the best in the NHL. However, even with the three goals, Ilya Sorokin both put together a remarkable performance and kept the Islanders in the game. He made 43 saves on 46 shots and as the Flames bombarded him with quick shots, he blanked the scoring chances and kept the game close, allowing the Islanders to rally for a 4-3 win.

Ilya Sorokin New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Sorokin’s 43 saves were the most he has made in a game this season and it’s the second time he’s saved 40 shots or more. While his best performance thus far was the 41-save shutout against the New York Rangers, his ability to limit the Flames’ offense and keep the game close was another reminder that the Islanders have an elite goaltender in the net. It’s early in the season and a lot can happen from now until the end of the year but Sorokin has already established himself as one of the frontrunners to win the Vezina Trophy.

Islanders Recover from Slow Start

Early on, the Islanders looked overwhelmed by the Flames and were struggling across the board. They were playing poorly through the first two periods of play and looked hapless on the offensive end of the ice. The Islanders managed only four shots on goal in the first period and only had one goal through the first 49 minutes of play. Granted, they turned the game around with two quick goals to tie the game and force overtime but early on, the team was outplayed by a Flames roster that has struggled recently, entering the game with four losses in a row.

Other Takeaways from Islanders Win

  • To tie the game, Kyle Palmieri scored his fourth goal of the season with a quick shot that gave the Islanders their second goal in under a minute. Palmieri continues to make his mark this season as one of the best shooters on the team and if he continues to find open looks on the net, he will take advantage.
  • Clutterbuck left in the first period and didn’t return for the rest of the game. The 34-year-old forward has dealt with injuries in recent years and missed the end of last season with an upper-body injury. He is an integral part of the fourth line and the Islanders can’t afford to have him out of the lineup for an extended period.
  • Late in the game, Lambert moved Barzal alongside Nelson and Lee, placing three of the team’s best skaters on the same line. The move gave the Islanders a much-needed boost and helped out the offense but the question is if this strategy is sustainable or one that will only be used in rare situations.

What’s Next for the Islanders

The Islanders just concluded their first game in a tough stretch where they will have to play four games in six days. The upcoming game will be the second of a back-to-back and is against the rival Rangers. The Islanders defeated them in their first matchup with a 3-0 shutout victory but this time, they will have reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin in the net. Meanwhile, with Sorokin starting the recent game, the team will hope that backup Semyon Varlamov can step up and put together a strong start.

With an 8-5 record, the Islanders will be understandably optimistic about their start to the season. However, the upcoming stretch of games will be pivotal for the team and determine if they can sustain this type of success throughout the season.

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