Fri, 27 May 2022

Islanders host Kraken with one eye on approaching storm

Field Level Media
29 Jan 2022, 07:40 GMT+10

The pandemic forced the postponement of the first scheduled game between the New York Islanders and the NHL's newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken.

Now, Mother Nature may have a hand in determining whether or not the newly rescheduled first game between the teams gets played Saturday, when the Islanders are slated to host the Kraken at Elmont, N.Y., with Winter Storm Kenan bearing down on the East Coast.

Both teams were off Friday after playing Thursday, when the host Islanders fell to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 and the Kraken began a four-game Eastern Conference road trip by edging the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in overtime.

Up to 16 inches of snow are forecast to fall on the Long Island area during Kenan, which is expected to bring with it winds as high as 55 mph. The Islanders had just six games postponed by weather in their history, most recently on Jan. 23, 2016, when Winter Storm Jonas dropped a record 27.5 inches of snow on Central Park and forced New York's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Brooklyn to be rescheduled.

The Islanders were scheduled to begin a four-game Western Conference road trip by visiting the Kraken on Jan. 4, but the NHL postponed that game, as well as New York's next three games -- against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames -- because of Canada's attendance restrictions during the COVID-19 spike.

The Islanders won five of their first seven games following that pause, but Thursday's loss to the Kings -- who are in third place in the Pacific Division -- continued a pair of worrisome trends. New York is 2-13-2 against teams occupying a playoff spot as of Friday and 13-2-4 against those outside the postseason picture.

In addition, the Islanders are 2-13-4 when scoring fewer than three goals and 13-2-2 when scoring at least three goals, which magnifies the small margin of error for a squad built on its defense and goaltending.

"Our concern is winning hockey games and we've got to score to do that," Islanders captain Anders Lee said. "Our M.O. (is) we're not scoring five goals a night. That hasn't been our team, it never has been. We keep the puck out of the net and we win 3-2 hockey games, 2-1 games."

Thursday's 2-1 win for the Kraken went down as a bit of a milestone victory for the struggling expansion team, which scored its first overtime goal and won when scoring fewer than three goals for just the second time.

Beating a pair of elite Eastern Conference teams such as Pittsburgh as well as the Carolina Hurricanes -- whom Seattle edged 2-1 on Nov. 24 -- reinforced the lesson Kraken center Jared McCann, who spent the previous two-plus seasons with the Penguins, has been trying to instill.

"I keep harping on this, but you've got to think defense first," said McCann, who forced overtime by scoring with 3:56 left in the third. "You really do, especially against a team like that, who are so skilled offensively."

--Field Level Media

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