The New York Islanders’ point-streak tour will hit Southern California this week for a pair of games against teams that would not appear to be in a position to put up much resistance.
The first of those two will take place Monday at Anaheim, as the Islanders put their franchise-record point streak of 17 consecutive games up against a Ducks team that has lost eight of its last nine and just dropped three consecutive games on the road. The Islanders will move on to face the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.
The Islanders got their first taste of California this season when they went overtime with the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, only to lose a 2-1 decision as Logan Couture scored the game-winner midway through the extra time.
At 15-0-2 during their successful run, the Islanders have not lost in regulation since Oct. 11 at Carolina.
Part of the Islanders’ issue Saturday was a slow start, as they did not take their first shot on goal until 6:46 had expired in the game. San Jose had eight shots by then. Once they got started, though, the Islanders did find a comfort zone and ultimately led 28-26 on shots in the game.
Goalie Semyon Varlamov kept the Islanders in it, making 24 saves. Varlamov is 7-0-2 during the team’s points streak.
“I thought we took over the game for most of it,” said the Islanders’ Casey Cizikas, who scored New York’s only goal against the Sharks. “It is what it is. You’re not going to win every game, but we got a point out of it, and now we move onto Anaheim.”
Scoring chances figure to come easier against the Ducks, especially on the power play. The Islanders went 0-for-6 on the power play Saturday, although the Sharks have the best penalty kill unit in the NHL (90.9 percent). The Ducks headed into play Sunday 23rd in the NHL in penalty kill percentage (76.8).
The Ducks’ issues are broader than that under first-year head coach Dallas Eakins. Captain Ryan Getzlaf decried a lack of physicality in a 6-2 defeat on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. The loss left the Ducks 1-5-3 over their last nine games.
“We’ve got to be committed to it for 60 minutes because the proof is there,” Getzlaf told reporters after Saturday’s game. “High flying teams like to play offense, and they (the Lightning) got little, 5-foot-10 guys shooting at the back of our net from inside our crease. If we’re not going to be big enough and strong enough to play in front our net, we’re never going to win anything.”
The Ducks gave up 16 goals in their three consecutive defeats at Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay, but did welcome back defenseman Hampus Lindholm on Saturday.
Anaheim has allowed 75 goals this season and has a minus-10 goal differential.
“It’s quite simple — you’re responsible for your minutes, and that’s it,” Eakins said. “And if you’re looking around for somebody else to do your job, then we should probably be looking for someone’s else to do your job.”
–Field Level Media