Even though the New York Islanders dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime on the west coast to the San Jose Sharks on November 23rd they still managed to extend a new franchise record. The point earned for the overtime loss meant the Islanders finished the game by earning at least one point in their past 17 regular-season NHL contests. The team has gone 15-0-2 during its hot streak and hadn’t been beaten in regulation time since October, 11th when they were downed 5-2 on the road by the Carolina Hurricanes during the second week of the season.
The game in San Jose was also the club’s third straight overtime outing and seventh-straight game to be decided by just one goal. In fact, eight of the 17 games during the streak have gone to overtime or a shootout. The Islanders previous record for consecutive games with a point was 15, which they achieved three times before since joining the league in 1972. The last time they were this hot was back in 1981/82 when they won a franchise-record 15 games in a row and before overtime and shootouts were introduced in the NHL.
Head coach Barry Trotz was understandably impressed with his squad and told the media his players simply show up every night and compete as hard as they possibly can. He added that the team understands two points are just as important in October and November as they are in February and March and they just find a way to win on most occasions. As of November 25th the streak had enabled the Islanders to climb to second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Washington Capitals sat atop the division with 37 points while the Islanders were next with 34 points with a record of 16-3-2 and they also had four games in hand on the Capitals. The three regulation losses were also tied for the fewest in the league with the Boston Bruins. As a team, the Islanders were above league average in most categories. Their power-play was clicking at a success rate of 20 per cent while the league average was 19.6 and their penalty killing was 83.3 per cent with the average being 80.3.
As far as goals-for per game go, the team was scoring at a pace of 3.14 per outing with the average being 3.03. Keeping the puck out of their own net has arguably been the Islanders’ strongest point as they owned the third-best goals-against average at 2.43 with the league average being 3.03 per game. The team had earned at least one point in 18 of their 21 games this season to lead the league in that department at 81 per cent. Another remarkable statistic is the fact the Islanders goaltenders haven’t allowed a goal in a shootout this season as they’ve stopped 100 per cent of the shots faced.
On an individual level, goaltender Thomas Greiss owned a record of 9-1 with the second-best save percentage in the league at 93.2 and the second-best goals-against average of 2.07. Fellow netminder Semyon Varlamov was 7-2-2 with a 91.3 save percentage and 2.63 GAA. The team’s scoring has been well balanced as centre Mathew Barzal is leading the team in goals, assists and points with nine, 11 and 20 respectively in 21 games.
Brock Nelson has chipped in with eight goals and 11 assists while Anthony Beauvillier has eight goals and eight helpers with Derrick Brassard six goals and 10 assists. In addition, fellow forwards Josh Bailey and Anders Lee have 14 and 10 points respectively while blue liners Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock each have 10 points. When former captain John Tavares jumped ship and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in the summer of 2018 many fans felt the Islanders may slip in the standings.
The opposite has been true though and since Trotz took over behind the bench in 2018/19 the team has allowed the fewest goals against in the league. There’s no doubt the Islanders’ point streak will eventually come to an end but the team would have to completely collapse the rest of the way to miss the playoffs and that’s unlikely to happen.