PITTSBURGH — At this point you have to stop trying to figure out the New York Islanders and this incredible run they are on.
Are they most talented roster on paper? No they are not. Do they play an exciting brand of hockey? Not really. Does their success defy almost analytical evidence we think we know about why teams win and lose? You bet it does. And do you know what? None of it matters. They just keep collecting points. They just keep winning.
They are just good.
Thanks to a late third period rally on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, they were able to erase a two-goal deficit with six minutes to play in regulation to earn a 5-4 overtime win, extending their current point streak to 15 games (14-0-1).
Along with that streak they also have an .816 points percentage that is tops in the entire league.
Last year their success left the non-believers (like me) perplexed for all of the reasons mentioned above, always waiting for the inevitable regression to hit (even into this season!). But sometimes you just have to take the loss (like everyone else currently is against the Islanders), admit you’re wrong, and stop trying to make sense of it.
The impressive thing about Tuesday’s comeback is they managed to score five goals on a night where their best and most dangerous offensive player — Mathew Barzal — was completely held off the scoresheet.
The big line was the the trio of Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, and Derick Brassard.
When that trio was on the ice during 5-on-5 play they controlled possession against the Penguins and held a 2-0 margin on the scoreboard, before also being on the ice for the game-tying goal (in a 6-on-5 situation) in the final two minutes.
Once the game reached overtime Nelson and Beauvillier teamed up for the winner in the 3-on-3.
This come-from-behind win comes after the Islanders erased a three-goal deficit against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday to pick up a 4-3 win.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said on Tuesday that he felt the effort was better on Saturday than it was in Pittsburgh and that the team just needs to keep focus on getting better every game, no matter how many games their point streak reaches.
Trotz was asked if the streak brings any added motivation each night, a suggestion he quickly dismissed while trying to claim the team wouldn’t even be aware of it if they weren’t being asked about it every day.
“Not really,” said Trotz when asked about the motivation factor. “The funny thing is the only ones that are talking about are the media. Honestly, and this is with all true honesty, we wouldn’t even know. Our team would have no clue if we won 10 in a row, or five in a row, we would just know we haven’t lost in a while. That has been our mentality, but the media keeps bringing it up so we are starting to understand the numbers now but the mentality has been just get better for the next game.”
Their only loss since Oct. 11 was a 4-3 overtime loss at home (after leading 3-0 in the third period) to the same Penguins team they rallied against on Tuesday.
They will have a chance to continue the streak on Thursday when they face the Penguins again.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.