Graziano: Impressive Islanders Keep Rolling In Win Over Toronto, Tavares

Andy Graziano
November 14, 2019 - 12:50 pm

The New York Islanders played true to their pedigree. So did the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the evening ended with what we have seen over 12 of the past 13 games, the Islanders earning a victory, 5-4 over the visitors at Nassau Coliseum.

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Jumping out to a 5-2 third period lead after Casey Cizikas backhanded a shot into the empty net, head coach Barry Trotz will not be happy with the way his team finished, allowing two goals in the final two minutes to make a raucous crowd feel a bit uneasy right to the final horn. 

New York was outshot at even strength, 26-20: familiar. They lost the Corsi battle at even strength, 58-35: familiar. They took a big lead on home ice into the final minutes: familiar. And they held down for a hard-earned two points. Again, that’s familiar. Toronto also played to their strength, proving once again that even two premier center icemen cannot help them if they don’t learn to keep the puck out of their net with regularity.

It takes a genius to know a genius, and Islanders statistician premier Eric Hornick was quick to point out postgame that the Islanders are now an incredible 61-30-8 under Trotz, or nine points better than the Maple Leafs are with John Tavares, who has played three more games. There were many familiar heroes in this one for New York as Mathew Barzal collected two more points on a goal and an assist, Derick Brassard had three points, Anthony Beauvillier had two goals and Casey Cizikas was an absolute beast, playing 16:47 (1:43 on the penalty kill) and winning 11 of 16 face-offs.


The crowd at the Coliseum was on its best behavior. People kept their things on their person and didn’t hurl them onto the ice, but they also serenading their former captain with boos and chants that included ‘We don’t need you’ and ‘Barzy’s better.’ When MSGs Shannon Hogan asked Beauvillier postgame about what brings out the best in the Islanders when they play this Toronto team, the young forward simply responded with the poise of a seasoned veteran, “I think everyone knows what it is.”

The Islanders now sit at 13-3-1, even though only two teams have scored fewer goals than them in the Metropolitan division. They have allowed only 39 goals, though, beating the next best team in the division by nine, making it clear to see how they have attained such heights 17 games into the 2019-20 season. They now play 10 of their next 13 on the road and will not see the Nassau Coliseum again until December 5 (the prior two home games are in Brooklyn). 

This is a chance for the team to gel on the road, as if they need more gelling. Ross Johnston has filled in nicely for Matt Martin, Leo Komarov returned tonight and didn’t miss a beat, Jordan Eberle has looked sharp since his return and this team just continues to grind out wins. Semyon Varlamov, even though he seemed to lose a little focus late in this one, has formed another version of the ‘terrible twosome’ that New York rode to success last year.

Trotz will not let this team get complacent as it heads to the road, knowing that the Islanders could play better from start to finish, even after collecting points in their 13th straight game.

“I thought our best stretch was in the third period, the first 15 minutes,” he said. “Once we scored the fifth goal, we stopped playing a bit. I thought for us, we were just okay today, we can play a lot better. I’m not going to take away from the Leafs, they are a good team, but I just didn’t like some of our decisions. I didn’t think we were as sharp as we needed to be.” 

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