The New York Islanders broke through on Monday night at the Barclays Center in their 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. They earned a win to end a three-game winless streak and a rough 1-3-2 stretch. More importantly, struggling players like Jason Chimera, Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd broke through and scored their first goals of the season. Adam Pelech played his first game with the Isles this year and added an assist. Fittingly, Cal Clutterbuck scored the game-winning goal on Cal Clutterbuck bobblehead night in a feel-good win for a team that needed a “W” badly.
“I think the third period was great and the last five minutes of the third was what we needed,” Clutterbuck said. “Everyone was doing the right thing, guys made solid plays and were strong on their sticks and not giving them a whole lot.”
The Islanders didn’t panic when Daniel Sedin scored just 4:22 into the contest and evened the game midway through the period on Chimera’s first tally of the season. Anders Lee picked up his first assist of the campaign on the play as well. The Islanders got off to a slow start but picked up cohesiveness and momentum as the period went on. The teams went into the locker room at first intermission tied 1-1 and even at 13 shots on goal apiece.
A nice play by Thomas Hickey set up the Islanders second goal at 7:38 of the middle stanza. Hickey held the puck long enough to make a solid pass to John Tavares who found Kulemin in front for the goal that made the score 2-1 Isles.
The penalty kill continued to be an issue for the Islanders tonight and the Canucks tied the game at 2-2 with the man advantage. Bo Horvat found an open Markus Granlund just outside the Isles crease and Ganlund beat Jaroslav Halak to even the game. That was the sixth straight game the Islanders had permitted a power play goal.
The Islanders controlled the third period, outshooting Vancouver 11-6. Best of the all, the Isles didn’t let up after grabbing the lead and kept control of the game. Clutterbuck potted the game-winner at 9:11 on the rebound of a shot by Johnny Boychuk.
Ladd scored off a screen shot from just inside the blue line less than two minutes later and the Isles had a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish.
The goal came as a big relief to Ladd, a consistent veteran who finally got his first goal of the year in his 13th game with the Islanders.
“It’s big for me and Jason [Chimera] just to get that good feeling when you put the puck on the net and it goes in,” Ladd said. “Sometimes all it takes is one and you go from there.”
Ladd and Chimera’s teammates were happy for the struggling veterans. “Those guys work the hardest and they were pros all the way through it,” Hickey said. “They were helping other guys out and now they’re going to start coming, I guarantee it.”
The Islanders ended their five game home stand with a 2-1-2 mark. They return to action Thursday when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for only their fourth road contest of the season.
The Isles scratched both Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier along with goalie J.F. Berube.
Clutterbuck led the Isles with six hits in addition to scoring the game-winning goal.
Pelech finished the game with an assist, a blocked shot and two hits in 17:08 of ice time.
Brock Nelson left the game in the third period and returned only briefly. Jack Capuano indicated Nelson would be evaluated by the team’s doctors on Tuesday.