After a comeback, overtime 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz gave a peek into the even-keeled mindset he tries to implant in his players’ heads, reassuring them that if they stick to their gameplan, good things will happen.
“We had to chase the game for a long time, but I don’t think there was any doubt we were just going to keep coming […]. We found a way to get it done. We kept grinding it out, grinding it out,” Trotz told the media. “That’s an Islander win right there. That’s how you do it.”
It may not have been the prettiest win, but it certainly was fulfilling. The Isles now have 70 points on the season, leaving them four points ahead of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division and 12 points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning going into Saturday night’s action.
Ryan Pulock‘s fifth and sixth goals of the season were absolute rockets and ended a goal drought that stretched back into 2018 (December 31). Clearly, when Pulock’s shot is flying true, he’s an extremely valuable asset to have. Adam Pelech‘s play has improved drastically over the last few weeks and I think that can be directly attributed to Pulock’s play alongside him.
The Isles fell behind 2-0 late in the second period after Erik Johnson put a wrister past Robin Lehner (25 saves for his 16th win of the season), but, almost on cue, fought their way back into the game, energizing a full-ish house at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn.
When asked about never finding themselves too far out of a game, Trotz addressed and praised his team’s we’re-never-out-of-this attitude.
“We’ve had a couple of times we’ve been able to come back — [a 4-3 shootout win over Detroit on December 15] was one where it really started for us — if we’re even down a goal, and we haven’t trailed a lot, we’ve been pretty diligent […]”, Trotz said. “We’ve been able to just not get away from our game. I think the biggest thing is, up or down, if we just stay with our game, it allows you to get back in the game […]. We’re learning to play Islander hockey.”
That they are — and at a prodigious pace, no less. Onward and upward. LGI