Islanders extend points run to 13 games
Complete four-game homestand with 5-4 win over Maple Leafs
It’s getting harder and harder to find fault with the New York Islanders, who extended their season-high points streak to 13 games Wednesday night by hanging on for a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of 13,293 fans at NYCB Live in Uniondale, N.Y.
But reigning Jack Adams Award winner Barry Trotz, the Islanders’ second-year head coach, still found room for criticism as New York continued its longest points run since a franchise-record 15-game winning streak during the 1981-82 season.
“The game was sort of choppy, but I thought the best stretch was the third period, the first 15 minutes,” said Trotz, whose red-hot club opened a 5-2 lead on Casey Cizikas’ empty-net goal before surrendering a pair of late tallies to the struggling Maple Leafs.
“Once we scored the fifth goal, we just sort of stopped playing a little bit, I thought we were just okay today.”
Just okay might be a bit harsh.
The Isles, who completed their dual-site four-game homestand with a 3-0-1 mark, with the lone loss coming via an overtime defeat to Pittsburgh at Barclays Center last Thursday night, have climbed into second place in the Metropolitan Division behind Washington with three games in hand.
They have also not lost in regulation since a 5-2 setback at Carolina on Oct. 11, making it more than a month now that Trotz’s team has been playing the best hockey in the NHL.
On Wednesday, Anthony Beauvillier scored a pair of goals, Mathew Barzal added a goal and an assist and Derick Brassard also tallied and had a pair of helpers for New York, which edged Florida, 2-1, last Saturday to complete a run of three straight games in Downtown Brooklyn.
“It’s a different guy coming up with a big play for us at different times,” Isles veteran forweard Cal Clutterbuck said of his team’s ongoing run.
“It speaks to the commitment that guys have to their roles.”
Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves as the Isles (13-3-1) survived despite allowing a goal to former team captain John Tavares with 48 seconds remaining in regulation that shaved the deficit to one.
The Isles lead the league in goals allowed at 2.29 per contest, a stat they finished atop the NHL in last year after yielding the most goals in the sport back in 2017-18.
They also appear to be getting their full complement of players back.
After missing 10 games with a lower-body injury, Jordan Eberle returned to the Isles on Saturday and picked up an assist on Wednesday’s game-opening tally by Barzal.
Cizikas, who settled matters with his empty-netter with 2:28 to go, was in the lineup despite a lingering knee issue and veteran forward Leo Kamarov returned to action Wednesday after missing nine games.
“With guys getting healthy, it gives us internal motivation because everybody is trying to stay in the lineup,” Trotz noted.
“We are starting to get healthy now and everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie because there are only so many pieces to go around.”
The Isles will be in Pennyslvania for the next two games as they visit Philadelphia on Saturday and Pittsburgh on Sunday before hosting the Penguins again next Thursday at Barclays Center.
Isle Have Another: Josh Bailey tied Bob Bourne for fifth place on the franchise’s games-played list, skating in his 814th career contest for the Orange and Blue on Wednesday. … Brassard, who has six goals and five assists through 17 games this season playing alongside Brock Nelson and Beauvillier, thanked his young center for his resurgence after a difficult season in which he played for three different teams last year. “He’s hungry and it’s been a lot of fun playing on his line,” Brassard said of Beauvillier. “He’s the engine on our line, he’s the youngest one and we expect him to have the most every night. It’s been a lot of fun playing with those two guys. Beau is one of our best players this season. Hopefully he can keep going that way. He’s still a really young player in this league. He’s still learning every day. He’s going to be something in a couple years.”
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