NHL Rink Wrap: Islanders – Lightning battle; Chinakhov introduces self

NHL Rink Wrap: Islanders - Lightning battle; Chinakhov introduces self
Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Top players from Monday in the NHL

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

The Islanders rarely give Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning much room for error. More often than not, Vasilevskiy finds a way to thread that needle.

In a tight Third Round series in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Vasilevskiy generated a .940 save percentage (11 goals allowed on 182 shots faced) in seven games. The year before, Vasilevskiy was almost as good (.933 save percentage) in six contests.

Don’t blame Islanders fans if they mutter to themselves merely at the sight of Vasilevskiy. In a game that was close for most of Monday’s NHL action, Vasilevskiy made 25 out of 26 saves to secure a win. When the only goal you allow is via a Mathew Barzal breakaway, you’re doing something right.

Yegor Chinakhov, Blue Jackets

Actually, scroll for more on his one-goal, one-assist night. It gets its own section.

Highlights from NHL on Monday (Islanders – Lightning; Blue Jackets – Red Wings)

With just two Monday NHL games, enjoy full highlights of Islanders – Lightning and Blue Jackets – Red Wings. (Some notable clips also reside in the takeaways.)

The Red Wings built leads, but the Blue Jackets kept clawing back, and won:

Late goals exaggerated the difference. Either way, though, the Lightning overcame the Islanders once again:

Monday’s NHL takeaways

Fights, hits remind us: Islanders and Lightning are not best friends

During the Lightning’s repeat Stanley Cup runs, did anyone give them more trouble than the Islanders? After a grueling six-game series in 2020-21, the Islanders and Lightning went to a Game 7 this past postseason. The difference? A shorthanded goal by Yanni Gourde.

When you go that deep two years in a row in the equivalent of consecutive conference finals,* you’re just as likely to develop hate as respect. With that in mind, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that things got nasty at times between the Islanders and Lightning on Monday.

Four seconds into Islanders – Lightning, Zdeno Chara and Patrick Maroon got into a fight:

The true nastiness felt more organic, though. Anthony Cirelli decided to fight Brock Nelson after Nelson landed a borderline hit on Alex Killorn:

As usual, this was a close game between the two — for most of the night. At times, it was also hostile. Go ahead, call Islanders – Lightning a rivalry.

* – Yeah, the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs were a little funky.

Chinakhov: from a reach to a steal for Blue Jackets?

To put things mildly, people did not expect the Blue Jackets to select Yegor Chinakhov at 21st overall during the 2020 NHL Draft. Plenty of well-prepared people reacted either with a “Who?” or at least a “Now?” Not that long removed from a Pierre-Luc Dubois gambit that ended up paying off, some wondered if Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was showing off.

Then again, the 2020 NHL Draft was unusual. The timing allowed teams unusual looks at prospects — mostly less, but a few in different contexts — and the Blue Jackets clearly liked the limited looks they got at Chinakhov. Doubters didn’t shake them.

It’s far too early to give them an A+ for drafting Chinakhov, but it’s pretty cool to see him make an impact for the Blue Jackets. After making some waves beyond the NHL, Chinakhov came up big on Monday. He factored into multiple rallies, assisting on Adam Boqvist‘s 2-2 goal, then scoring the 3-3 goal itself.

Eventually, the Blue Jackets beat the Red Wings. Through nine games, Chinakhov has four points, including his first career goal from Monday.

He scored all four of those points in the past four games (1G, 3A).

It’s great that Iginla is a first ballot Hall of Famer but …

Credit Jarome Iginla. It’s not surprising, but he told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis that he won’t dwell on missing out on a Hart Trophy, among other accolades.

Well, allow me.

Jose Theodore was great in 2001-02, yet the way Iginla lost — a voter leaving him off his ballot to help Theodore earn a Hart — is beyond gross. It also cements a thought: as great as Jarome Iginla was, people might have had a better idea if a few things went differently.

  1. That 2001-02 Hart Trophy.
  2. Martin Gelinas’ goal-that-wasn’t in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.
  3. Frankly, it’s my opinion that Jarome Iginla deserved the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy, anyway. Then again, I nitpick just about every Conn Smythe decision. It’s almost a nervous tic at this point.

If I had to bet, I’d guess that Iginla’s greatness might sneak up on younger fans. And even some who got to see him play.

[2020 Hockey Hall of Famers finally inducted]

Maybe some of that has to do with longevity. Iginla bounced to the Penguins, Bruins, Avalanche, and Kings late in his career, and he’d already faded from amazing to merely very good in his latter Flames days. Perhaps those extra years pushed out memories of him being an incredible power forward?

On the bright side, that extra time really cemented Iginla’s counting stats. Scoring 625 goals when your career overlaps into some of the “Dead Puck Era” is no joke. There’s also something so pleasant and round about the final point total of 1,300.

So, Jarome Iginla’s probably right not to dwell on those smaller quibbles while looking at his Hall of Fame bust.

Tuesday’s big story

Revenge of McDavid, or another win for Winnipeg?

Truly, Connor McDavid‘s 2020-21 was absurdly impressive. People cackled at McDavid reaching 100 points in 56 games. Instead, McDavid didn’t need that many, and ended up with 105 points in 56 contests.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re a Jets fan or McDavid critic), Winnipeg swept Edmonton in the First Round. Despite drawing zero penalties in that sweep, McDavid managed a point per game (1G, 3A), but it wasn’t enough.

Tuesday’s NHL action is packed with interesting chances for teams to prove themselves. To mention a few:

  • The Predators can make waves if they beat the Maple Leafs.
  • The Capitals represent an early test for the red-hot Ducks.
  • Among other interesting matchups, both the Wild and Sharks hope to make a point.

All of that said, the Oilers’ revenge factor adds sizzle to the steak of Tuesday’s game against the Jets. It doesn’t hurt that both teams are off to strong starts.

Monday’s NHL scores

Lightning 4, Islanders 1
Blue Jackets 5, Red Wings 3

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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