Where were these islanders last month?
As bad as January was for the Islanders, February seems to be the opposite in every way so far. The Ices (27-22-5) have extended their winning streak to four games by winning their first two games since the All-Star break after defeating the Kraken 4-0 at UBS Arena on Tuesday. And it was an absolutely perfect one.
In Bo Horvat’s home debut, the Islanders looked like the kind of team they envisioned themselves trading for. After a slow start at the other end of the back-to-back, Samuel Bolduc got them on the board first and the Islanders never looked back.
The moment of the night came 5:08 into the second, with the Islanders already up 3-0. That’s when Horvat took a feed from Mathew Barzal and buried it into the top shelf of the Kraken net for his first goal as an Islander and his 32nd career of the season. The party was on at the UBS Arena.
Chants of “HOR-VAT” came down as centre-mates met him near the bench. There won’t be a long wait to see him score or have an impact on the team in an Islanders uniform. It was painted all over the ice — really all over the building, with the No. 14 jersey on it.
It was the first time the Islanders scored more than three goals in a game since Jan. 16 against the Capitals, and the first time they scored four goals since Jan. 3 against the Canucks. It was a dominant effort, forcing Ilya Sorokin to make just 30 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, and the Islanders were suddenly able to pick up the ice for the entirety of January. can take
If the Islanders are going to look like this with Horvat in their lineup, watch out.
Bolduc’s goal, at 7:59 of the first, came out of relatively nowhere on an innocent-looking point shot that weaved its way past traffic and Martin Jones. From there, it was an onslaught for the rest of the period, culminating in Simon Holmstrom’s top shelf finish to double the lead at 18:29.
Zach Parise followed that up by tipping in Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s shot with 3:38 left, and then less than two minutes later came Horvat’s goal and the cheers of his new star fans.
All told, it was probably the best the Islanders have played all season — and almost without a doubt their best performances in the second and third games of the season against the bottom-feeding Ducks and blowouts against the Sharks. Since the couple.
The Islanders are now just one point behind the Capitals for the first wild-card spot, though Washington has a game in hand. Kris Letang’s overtime winner put the Penguins tied with the Isles at 59 points, with Pittsburgh having four games remaining.
It’s only been two games since the break, and the Isles have been an outstanding team all season. But right now, he looks rejuvenated and energized after spending most of January with his season hanging by a thread.
The vibes aren’t just on ice. It has seeped into the dressing room and into Len Lambert and Lou Lemurello’s interactions with the media. Suddenly, everyone is in a good mood.
It may end quickly and even if the win goes away, but the change since the addition of Horvat is clear. Islanders aren’t just repeating their belief in themselves out of habit. They feel it.
Keep it up and they can make anyone a believer.
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