Islanders snap seven-game losing skid with shootout win over Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — Lane Lambert wants the narrative around the Islanders to change over the next seven to 10 days.
His team took the first step in that direction on Saturday by finally getting a win.
But the question after the 5-4 shootout victory over the Flames — courtesy of Oliver Wahlstrom’s game-winner in the fourth round — is whether or not the seven-game losing streak that preceded it will be enough for Lou Lamoriello to induce a narrative change that involves a new head coach behind the bench.
If this was Lambert’s chance to make a case for himself via his team’s play, the Islanders gave him a pretty good showing and as resilient a third period as he could have asked for.
Mackenzie Weegar’s tying goal at 3:11 of the third also seemed a time where the Islanders might have folded.
Instead, Brock Nelson potted Sebastian Aho’s rebound to give them a 4-3 lead just 19 seconds later, as Weegar’s goal was being announced.
So, too, did Yegor Sharangovich’s goal to tie it at four at the 13:43 mark.
But after frantically defending for the back half of the third period, the Islanders — at the sixth time of asking — finally won a game after regulation, prevailing in the skills competition after a frenetic three-on-three overtime.
The Islanders played their best five-on-five game of the trip, building an attack and generating a forecheck. They took a lead and held it. And vitally, they played well on both special teams.
More than once after the Islanders took a 3-1 lead in the second period, things looked set to fall apart.
Blake Coleman got the Flames to 3-2 at 17:03 of the second and 39 seconds later — with Simon Holmstorm temporarily in the dressing room after eating a Nikita Zadorov one-timer — Adam Pelech was called for tripping.
That is the sort of moment in which the Islanders have spiraled throughout this season.
This time, Holmstrom got back on the ice for the penalty kill and the Islanders successfully kept the Flames at bay until Noah Hanifin took a slashing penalty with 1:13 to go in the power play.
Not to mention the repeated answers to Calgary goals in the third.
That is the sort of resilience the Islanders have not shown enough this season.
The Islanders opened up their initial 3-1 lead with three straight goals after Martin Pospisil put the Flames ahead 1-0.
Hudson Fasching recovered a loose puck and wired it past Jacob Markstrom to tie the game before the first intermission.
Then Kyle Palmieri cleaned up the garbage for a power play goal to put the Islanders ahead and Mathew Barzal took advantage of a defensive-zone turnover by Rasmus Andersson to score at four-on-four 8:07 into the second.
Whether Saturday will be enough to save Lambert isn’t known. It wasn’t when Jay Woodcroft was fired by the Oilers last week following a 4-1 win by Edmonton in Seattle.
Lambert, though, said prior to the game that he has not discussed his job status with Lamoriello, and reiterated that his team has been playing good hockey.
It is easy for that to fall on deaf ears when the team is losing. But now there is at least a positive way to spin things.
The Islanders are on a three-game point streak, having lost in overtime and a shootout in Vancouver and Seattle.
They technically went .500 on the trip, despite losing three of the four games.
They are at NHL-.500 in the standings, too, despite having won just six times this season.
It would be extremely generous to describe that as momentum.
But what matters is how Lamoriello views things.