Islanders blow out Sharks to move closer to playoff spot

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Islanders beat the Sharks in a straight line and moved closer and closer to the playoffs.

A last-place San Jose team traded Anthony Duclair, one of its better forwards, just before puck drop Thursday, but on paper it didn’t seem like a good bet to end the Islanders’ winning streak.

And from the first shot of the game, the Islanders never relinquished control as they ultimately won 7-2.

Kyle MacLean (left) is congratulated by Matt Martin (left) and Cal Clutterbuck after scoring a goal in the Islanders’ 7-2 win over the Sharks. AP

“We need that,” Bo Horvat said. “These wins are important. These games are important going forward. They are important every night. We’re definitely feeling good about ourselves right now. We’ve got to keep doing that.”

The Isles extended their winning streak to five games, setting a new season high.

The Lightning’s loss to Calgary earlier in the night left them with two games and the same number of games as the Red Wings, putting them within two points of either of the wild-card spots.

With Friday afternoon’s trade deadline approaching, this on-ice accomplishment is the next step for general manager Lou Lamoriello, especially after the Islanders held a lead for 59 minutes and 41 of 60 minutes on Brock Nelson’s top line. It just encouraged me to add something like this. Horvat and Matt Barzal had their best game since their formation, contributing to four of the team’s seven goals.

“They were moving the puck fast and working together. There was great chemistry,” coach Patrick Roy said. “The three of them worked very well together and the defense played a big role.”

The production from the blue line started just 19 seconds into the game, with Noah Dobson’s well-placed shot (the Isles’ first against Sharks netminder Magnus Crona, who played his third career NHL game Thursday). shot attempt) was deflected by San Jose defender Kyle Burrows. And then to the internet.

By the end of the first period, Alexander Romanov extended the lead to two points with a single left point off a feed from Horvat.

Sebastian Aho celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the second period during the Islanders’ win. USA TODAY Sports (via Reuters Con)

Earlier in the season, the Islanders looked similarly strong against the Sharks, but they allowed three straight goals in the final 10 minutes of the game and suffered a shocking loss in overtime.

That didn’t happen this time.

The Sharks came within a goal twice in the second period with Thomas Bordeaux and Mike Hoffman scoring.

In both cases, the Islanders responded. First Horvat scored from a few feet out, then Kyle MacLean scored just 15 seconds after Hoffman cut the lead to make it 3-2.

During the second period of the Islanders’ win, Kyle Palmieri falls forward in front of Sharks goaltender Magnus Crona. AP

“It felt good. It always does,” MacLean, who is gradually becoming an integral part of the roster, told the Post. “It’s always a nice little nudge to yourself.”

Just two minutes later, Barzal entered the game with a great shot off Nelson’s cross-ice feed.

The explosion continued two minutes later when Sebastian Aho converted Horvat’s pass into the left circle to make it 6-2. Anders Lee added a brilliant seventh goal in the third period.

Breaks that were bad for the Islanders are now working out for them.

Ryan Pulock and Sharks center Nico Sturm fight for control of the puck during the Islanders’ win. USA TODAY Sports (via Reuters Con)

And on Thursday, they easily won a game in which they didn’t play their best.

Especially early in Thursday’s game, the Islanders’ puck management was lacking and the breakout looked a little off.

The lopsided score aside, it wasn’t the cleanest game they’ve played in a while.

But there are no style points in the standings, and no one will be able to hold it in games where the Islanders dominated the scoresheet and topped the top line.

“I think we supported each other really well on the ground,” Horvat said. “Obviously we found each other, but I think the biggest thing was we supported each other all over the rink. It was a tight forecheck and a good play that obviously killed our chances.”

Just a few weeks ago, only the players in the locker room thought the Islanders could make the playoffs.

But the Isles appear to be on the verge of doing just that after two consecutive seasons of underdog conditions.

“I think everyone is already waiting for the next match,” Romanov said. “It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. We are already focused and ready for the next win.”