Hockey

NY ISLANDERS: Rubik’s Cube Islanders Fall 1-0 to Capitals Tuesday Night By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

The Islanders are like a rubik’s cube. That was Head Coach Barry Trotz’s own simile during his morning media availability. As the Head Coach, it is his job to find the right pieces and sequences and put them in the right places at the right time in order to solve the puzzle.

On Tuesday night in Washington D.C. three of the four Islanders lines were jumbled up as Trotz attempted to find the winning algorithm. The featured changes were: Leo Komarov taking a seat; Oliver Wahlstrom being re-inserted to the lineup; Josh Bailey moving up to Mathew Barzal’s wing; Anthony Beauvillier moving down to J.G. Pageau’s wing; as well as Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri playing on Brock Nelson’s wings. Braydon Coburn also took Noah Dobson’s spot on the third D-pair — all while Ilya Sorokin started for the second straight game because Semyon Varlamov was unavailable. Unfortunately, all those changes failed to lead to a win as the Boys from Long Island were listless in their 1-0 loss to the Capitals inside Capital One Arena.

The Nassaumen were in trouble early as Daniel Sprong, playing in place of the still injured Alex Ovechkin, scored a goal on the first shot of the game — 1:29 into the first — to give Washington the early 1-0 lead.

On the play, Mathew Barzal lost the puck deep in his own zone and several Isles were caught puck watching as Sprong walked in on Sorokin and scored his third goal in the past two games.

Things didn’t get much better for the Boys from Long Island as they failed to generate quality offensive chances throughout the first period. And to compound the issue, Ryan Pulock and Bryadon Coburn were each called for tripping penalties late in the period to give the Capitals a 5-on-3 power-play for 1:16. 

New York, however, managed to kill off the first penalty and entered the intermission with just 34-seconds left on the second. 

The second period began and after 34-seconds, the Boys from Long Island were back to playing 5-on-5 as they managed to hold the Capitals to just one-shot on goal throughout the duration of the two power-plays.

Moments later, Matt Martin leveled Michael Raffl with a thunderous hit and immediately was challenged by Zdeno Chara to a fight; which Martin accepted. Of course, Martin was worse for wear after the fight as Chara won by unanimous decision. But it was a fight that both sides knew had to happen; especially since Raffl briefly headed down the tunnel to get checked out — likely for a concussion — before returning a few minutes later.

That was all the excitement the Islanders could muster in the second period as they were held to just five-shots on goal in the period (and through 40-minutes accumulated only 12-shots on goal). They did earn a power-play towards the end of the period that carried into the third period but that hardly mattered.

Beyond the Isles scoring issues, they were also struck by a case of inaccurate passing and coughing up the puck like it was going out of style; two issues that the team could ill-afford to have and desperately need to fix.

The third period began with the Nassaumen still on the power-play for 34-seconds but that went to waste; as many carryover power-plays do.

A couple more power-play chances in the third period gave the Islanders a glimmer of hope; after all, they were only down 1-0. However, while the penalty-kill was perfect, the power-play was far from it and that ultimately cost the Boys from Long Island as they generated just six-shots on goal in the third period as they fell for the third straight game to the Capitals.

The Isles now return to New York to face the Rangers in a game they must win in order to prevent things from snowballing out of control.

GAME NOTES:

The Isles went 0-for-3 on the power-play to bring their season tally to 22-for-124…The Isles went 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill…Oliver Wahlstrom tagged back in after sitting for two straight…Braydon Coburn tagged in for Noah Dobson…Leo Komarov took a seat…Cory Schneider backed up Ilya Sorokin as Semyon Varlamov was in street clothes…Happy 33rd Birthday to Varlamov…The Isles have now been shutout three times in their last six games.

NEXT GAME:

Thursday April 29th Islanders at Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 7pm(EST).

NHL NEWS:

For several weeks we have known that ESPN would be the new U.S. media rights holder for the NHL. ESPN and the NHL signed a shiny new 7-year deal for what has been dubbed, “The A Package,” which meant The League still needed a “B Package.” 

On Monday night rumor spread the “B Package” was going to Turner Sports in something of an upset as NBC was viewed by many as the frontrunner. However, NBC backed out and ended the relationship it’s had with the NHL since the 2005-06 season. 

On Tuesday morning, the NHL and Turner Sports made things official. The “B Package” is also a 7-year deal and will include three Stanley Cups for the network as well as all seven Winter Classics.

Now the question becomes, how will Turner help grow and present the NHL in a way that is not only different, but better, than what NBC did? 

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