The New York Islanders have struggled with consistently maintaining success for the last two decades. Every time it looks like the team is ready to turn a corner, they have another major setback. History is repeating itself once again in New York. After having their best regular season since 1984 last year, the Islanders are fighting to grab a playoff spot in 2020.
New York entered their game against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, February 23, tied for the last two wild card playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. With the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets both off on Sunday, this gave the Islanders a great chance to separate themselves from the competition.
The biggest issue for the Islanders the entire season has been their lack of offense. They just are not able to create as many easy scoring chances as the other playoff contenders. Luckily, the Sharks entered Sunday’s game with the most goals allowed in the Western Conference. San Jose’s poor defense was on display early in the contest. It took Anders Lee less than seven minutes to put New York on top with his 18th goal of the season. This lead lasted less than four minutes after Dylan Gambrell scored for the Sharks.
The Islanders came out firing to start the second period. The increased offensive pressure was simply too much for the weak San Jose defense. Anders Lee scored his second goal of the game 70 seconds into the second period. After regaining the lead, New York went back to their normal conservative game plan. The slower pace was a huge advantage for the Islanders. They eventually added another goal with less than three minutes left in the period when a shot by Devon Toews found the back of the net.
With a two-goal lead entering the third period, the Islanders had no intention of changing their conservative play. While this style made it harder for them to generate offense, it also prevented the Sharks from creating great scoring chances. After frustrating San Jose for nearly 18 minutes, New York sealed a 4-1 victory with a goal by Josh Bailey.
New York played a virtually flawless game on Sunday. They have to play conservative and avoid careless mistakes if they want to earn a spot in the playoffs. The Islanders will return to action when they host the New York Rangers on Tuesday, February 25.