By Jack Fenty
The Vegas Golden Knights came into this matchup with the New York Islanders at the top of the NHL standings. Another impressive statistic is they had yet to lose a season series against a team. Well that second statistic changed when the Islanders defeated the Knights 2-1 last night and after beating them earlier in the season at Barclays Center 6-3. The Islanders are the first team to ever beat the Vegas Golden Knights in a season series. History-makers!
The Isles were outplayed in the first period of the game; the Knights were playing fast hockey and the Isles looked like they couldn’t keep up. Jaroslav Halak, the goaltender for the Isles, had to stand on his head for much of that period. Halak was bailing his team out on breakaways and odd-man rushes given up. It was probably the first time this season the Islanders got huge saves from their goaltender. The second period had a different feel; the Isles were playing great hockey in the offensive zone. They were controlling the puck down-low and had multiple scoring chances when they were in the o-zone. Exactly half way through the second period Ross Johnston scored his first National Hockey League goal to break the tie and make it 1-0 Isles. The first half of the third period was much of the same we saw from the team in the second. They were backchecking hard on defense and were putting pressure on the Vegas Knights young defense. The pressure on the Vegas defense led to the second goal of the game for the Isles. Anthony Beauvillier and Mat Barzal stole the puck from the Vegas defenseman and then Barzal did what he does best, sauced a puck to Jordan Eberle in the slot who buried one high over Fleury. Fleuuuuuuryyyyy. The Isles eventually let in a goal but were able to hold on for a huge road win.
The Islanders overall played a great game. The team played very hard against the best team in the league. The Isles played sound team defense even though they still gave up 39 shots on goal. But the difference between last nights game and the previous games is they kept the opposition to only one shot per chance; they cleared the danger quickly. Another part of the game I liked was the play of Jaroslav Halak; he made great save after great save for the Isles. I would say it was best game of the season for Jaro. The Barzal line with Beauvillier and Eberle stayed hot. Every time that line hits the ice there seems to be chances in the offensive zone.
This win a huge confidence booster for the Isles. They go into the all-star break with a record of 25-20-5 and are only two points away from being in the second spot in the Metro playoff picture. Hopefully this week-long break will give the injured Isles time to rest up for the huge 32 games of the regular season. Playoff-bound? We hope.
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