Another Metro Division battle this evening at PNC Arena as the Carolina Hurricanes host the New York Islanders. The boys from the island are currently 4 points behind the Canes with the same amount of games played. These days, everyone is trying to keep pace with the New York Rangers as they have 33 points in 21 games to lead the division.
The two teams met earlier this month on the island where the Canes were victorious in overtime to pick up an important road win after losing to the Rangers two nights before.
The Islanders just had a 6 game point streak broken on Tuesday in New Jersey after suffering a loss to the Devils after a late goal given up in the third period. The Islanders led the game 4-2 heading into the third and were defeated 5-4.
Although the 6 game point streak included a 3 game winning streak, the rest were all losses in overtime or shootout. This team is notorious for losing in the shootout.
The offense on the island goes through Mathew Barzal. The team lacks a ton of speed and Barzal provides that missing piece with a combination of playmaking ability. Barzal leads the team with 19 points and 13 assists.
The goal scoring comes from center, Brock Nelson. Nelson leads the team with 10 and has a sneaky release on his shot.
Acquired last season, Bo Horvat is another threat with 6 goals and 9 assists. Horvat will shoot from anywhere but is very dangerous around the net. Playing with Barzal, these two will be the biggest problem for the Canes defense.
Noah Dobson is the power play quarterback and is a smooth skating defenseman with soft hands,. Dobson is second on the team in points with 18. He has 8 assists on the man advantage.
The rest of the defense is banged up as Adam Pelech and the other Sebastian Aho were recently injured in a game against Ottawa. Pelech may be done for the season.
The real strength of the team is their goaltending with Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov. Combined they have a .918 save-percentage but the goals against has been poor with 3.10. Despite the stats and defensive play in front of him, Sorokin is one of the best goaltenders in the league. Without Sorokin the Islanders may be at the bottom of the league.
The issue for the Islanders this season has been staying out of the box and in timely situations. The Canes will need to put the man advantage to the Islanders and set the tone early.