Tip: The playoff-chasing New York Islanders are visited by the Tampa Bay Lightning!
Pierre Engvall's late decider against the Toronto Maple Leafs sealed a 3-2 win, marking only the third victory in the last ten games for the Islanders, a much-needed change in momentum. Much of the success can be attributed to the phantom goaltender, Sorokin, who, with the help of the goal frame, withstood the Leafs' high pressure.
Key Defensemen Returned
The Islanders struggled with injuries before the All-Star break. However, against the Leafs, both Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech were back in the lineup, stabilizing the defense. Both had a tough time against Toronto, but Ilya Sorokin was probably the busiest of all, facing a total of 37 shots during the game, 35 of which he stopped. The prospects for the Islanders to reach the playoffs rely heavily on Sorokin staying fit. Even though Varlamov is a top-quality backup goaltender, we know that a fit Sorokin is one of, if not the best, goaltenders in the world.
Before the break, the Islanders decided to part ways with coach Lane Lambert and brought in Patrick Roy to the bench. I can't discern any major change in how the Islanders play hockey, and as I pointed out in our live broadcast on Twitch, the Islanders are a grateful team to take over. Everyone knows their role, and the team is built to be a strong collective that works for each other. When the whole team is built under such conditions, it's hard to change too much, which in this case is seen as positive. Roy "just" needs to be a positive force in the locker room and tweak the small details, a grateful role.
Rangers Shut Down the Brilliant Offense
The New York Rangers did what they do best in last night's match against the Tampa Bay Lightning and thoroughly shut down the opposition. Kucherov & Co. could only manage to create just over 1.60 in xG (expected goals) and were held to just one goal. Remarkably, the Lightning chose to split up the highly successful first line and moved Nick Paul to the left wing instead of Steven Stamkos, likely to create a better balance in an otherwise front-heavy Lightning.
Tampa suffered a significant injury near Mikhail Sergachev, after a situation where he landed with his entire body weight over one leg and had to be wheeled out on a stretcher. A heavy blow for the 25-year-old Russian who was just back after a long-term injury. He also plays a crucial role for the Lightning as one of their most important defensemen. Andrei Vasilevskiy was in goal, so it's likely we'll see a rotation against the Islanders to Jonas Johansson.
Betting Tips and Conclusion
Saturday 19:00, NHL
The overall performance of Tampa Bay has been very solid this season. However, the conditions for tonight are tough. The visiting team faces a strong collective that just achieved an important change in momentum. Additionally, Sergachev is missing again, and there will likely be a rotation in goal. Add to that the Tampa Bay Lightning played a tough match during the night against the New York Rangers, and you can see where this is heading.
The betting tip is New York Islanders FT @ +140 at bet365!
+21. Play responsibly.
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