(Photo via youtube.com)
On February 19th, the New York Islanders embarked on a seven game road trip that started in New Jersey facing the Devils. The Islanders took care of business in New Jersey, being carried by goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a 1-0 shutout victory. The Islanders then would have to go west as they were set for a five game stretch on the western side of Canada. Most people considered this an absolutely huge stretch for the Islanders in order to keep pace with the second place New York Rangers and to fend off the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were nipping at their heels trying to take the 3rd place title in the Metropolitan division away from the Islanders. However, before getting to Canada, the Isles would first have to travel to Minnesota to face a surging Wild team who had been 5-0-0 since firing head coach Mike Yeo in favor of Interim head coach John Torchetti. The Islanders ended that winning streak handily by winning 4-1. They then headed north of the border, starting off in Calgary to face the Flames, followed by a trip to see the Edmonton Oilers. They would split the two games, beating the Fames 2-1 in overtime before losing in bad fashion to Edmonton, 4-1.
With two games left in Canada, the Islanders finished strong, beating Vancouver 3-2 and then beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in dramatic fashion in overtime. After the Jets scored with just over two minutes left, Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy scored from the blue line with 30 seconds left to send the game into overtime and get the Islanders at least one crucial point. However, 2:20 into overtime, Islanders center Frans Nielson took a shot that hit Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers in the face and deflected right to Islanders forward Kyle Okposo who scored and earned the Islanders that crucial second point. Talking to reporters after the game, Okposo acknowledged his game winning goal, but at the same time shed light on the fact that he hasn’t scored in quite a while. “I’ll take’em anyway I can get ‘em. I haven’t scored in a while.”
So, after completing six out of seven games on their road trip and earning 10 out of a possible 12 points, the Islanders come home to New York, except not to the Barclays center. The Islanders will head to Madison Square Garden to face their cross town rivals, the New York Rangers on Sunday night in the most important game of their road trip with playoff implications on the line. The Islanders head into the game red hot, and with 77 points in 62 games played, the least in the NHL. On the other side, the Rangers head into Sundays game coming off a mammoth 3-2 win on Friday night against the NHL’s best team the Washington Capitals and have 82 points in 65 games played. The Islanders would go on to win this crucial game 6-4 in a high scoring affair. This win continues the Isles red-hot streak and earns them a huge win against a playoff team.
– D. Celauro