Fifth place within the Metropolitan Division doesn’t imply something. However the Islanders performed prefer it did.
Dealing with the Blue Jackets for the second time in as many video games, the Islanders pulled out a 5-2 win to comb a home-and-home sequence and transfer right into a tie for fifth within the division with two video games in hand on Columbus.
After going into the third interval tied at two, Kyle Palmieri netted the go-ahead aim with a snipe previous Elvis Merzlikins from the precise circle with 16:44 to go within the sport.
After six minutes and a profitable penalty kill, Mathew Barzal supplied the dagger, getting in alone on a breakaway and scoring to increase the result in a decisive 4-2. Semyon Varlamov, who completed with 34 saves, helped the Islanders fend off an prolonged six-on-five assault earlier than Ryan Pulock’s empty-net aim.
In a undeniable fact that will probably be equal components maddening and heartening to followers, the Islanders proceed to play a few of their finest hockey of the season after they’ve been all however formally eradicated from the playoff race. Their first interval on Thursday was a clinic in forechecking, and a taking pictures gallery that put Merzlikins on the mercy of his personal group’s lack of ability to get out of its zone.
The Islanders recorded the primary 10 photographs of the sport, scoring on Nos. 9 and 10, which got here 11 seconds aside. After Sebastian Aho’s wrist shot from the precise circle discovered its well beyond Merzlikins, Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom discovered themselves in a two-on-one off the following faceoff, with Wahlstrom netting the aim at 8:50.
The momentum didn’t final lengthy, because the Blue Jackets got here again to tie issues up within the second, with Emil Bemstrom and Justin Danforth scoring inside two minutes halfway by way of the interval and the Islanders looking of kinds.
Within the third, although, they discovered their footing once more.
The Islanders completed a month through which they performed a franchise-record 17 video games, misplaced two key gamers to accidents and defied expectations to face pat on the commerce deadline with their document at 30-27-9, and a powerful 10-6-1 over a busy 31 days.
That was not adequate to get them again within the playoff hunt, and thus serves little goal aside from as a comfort prize. But it surely does function some vindication for the assumption that the early-season tumult off the ice was extra accountable for the group’s struggles than any deadly flaw within the group’s development.
The schedule doesn’t let up over the past month. There are 16 extra video games, beginning with Friday’s tilt towards the Rangers at Madison Sq. Backyard.
Simply as may very well be stated in regards to the final 4 weeks of video games, it will be straightforward for the Islanders to start out enjoying with one eye on their summer time break.
But when fifth place was sufficient motivation for this Thursday evening, then it’s straightforward to think about they’ll discover a motive to care about these video games, too.