Heading into the third period down 2-0 against the San Jose Sharks, it looked like the New York Islanders’ losing streak would extend to 11 games. John Tavares and Kyle Okposo – two players who’ve been consistent while others have fallen apart – wouldn’t let that happen on Tuesday.
Instead, they powered a comeback that ultimately resulted in a 3-2 shootout win thanks to a clincher by (wait for it): Okposo.
Both homegrown Islander talents had two points apiece tonight (Okposo with a goal and an assist, Tavares with two helpers) while Thomas Vanek found the net for the second straight game.*
While that trio of scorers have often been the lone bright spot for the Isles, their goaltending has been abysmal lately, but Kevin Poulin put up stellar numbers tonight. He stopped 46 out of 48 shots, including a flawless first period as San Jose dominated play with an 18-3 shot advantage.
The Islanders can feel that mixture of elation and relief while the Sharks must feel extreme frustration. The Sharks are on a four-game losing streak despite carrying much of the play (They’ve been outscored 15-7 [not counting the Isles’ shootout score] in this four-game skid despite winning the shots battle 156-106).
Maybe San Jose should use a mantra that was likely uttered in the Islanders’ locker room a lot lately: something has to give.
* – For all that’s been said about the Vanek trade failing, he’s been productive with 11 points in 15 games since being traded. If anything, the problems with that swap revolve around context (from the picks given up, to the possibility that Vanek might leave in free agency and the notion that the team strengthened a strength instead of improving on a weak area) instead of Vanek’s scoring.
McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.
With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:
1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP
As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.
Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.
The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.
Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style