Islanders turnovers loom large in 3-2 loss to Golden Knights, Adin Hill makes 40 saves

Islanders Golden Knights
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) pauses as the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal by Nicolas Roy during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

ELMONT, N.Y. — The aggression was there — so were some growing pains — but overall, Patrick Roy was generally happy with how his Islanders performed despite a loss.

New York (20-16-11) dropped Game No. 2 of the Roy era, falling to the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Tuesday night at UBS Arena despite posting a season-high 42 shots and outshooting its opponents by 15.

“Sometimes the hockey gods are not on your side,” Roy said. “Tonight that was the case. I saw a lot of good things. Great progression from our guys. Our breakouts were much better. I felt like we were working and skating harder to pick up pucks.

“We were moving our feet much more than the previous game… That’s the nature of hockey. Sometimes you don’t get necessarily rewarded for what you do.”

Vegas (28-14-6) used a two-goal outburst in just 1:49 during the second period to build a two-goal lead they wouldn’t relinquish, but their opening and final tallies were created by key turnovers from Islanders defensemen.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau pulled one back shorthanded midway through the third period for the Islanders, but they couldn’t beat Knights goalie Adin Hill, who turned away 40 New York shots in his first game since Dec. 17. 

Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin made 24 saves on 27 shots. 

An Adam Pelech turnover led to the Golden Knights’ breakthrough with 8:08 remaining in the first period. Getting to a loose puck in front of Sorokin’s net, a backhanded clear attempt was the equivalent of a pass to Vegas defender Alex Pietrangelo, whose wrister was deflected by Ivan Barbashev and in.

“It was bad luck, that first goal,” Roy said. “A little miscue in our D-zone coverage. We should have been a little bit lower to facilitate the breakout and Pietrangelo took a shot, tip in front, sometimes those things happen.”

The Islanders found an equalizer during a delayed penalty 3:35 into the second period when Brock Nelson snapped a wrister through Hill. His 21st goal of the season was also the 500th of his career, becoming the 12th player in franchise history to hit that mark.

Vegas would answer quickly, though, opening a two-goal lead in a period in which the Islanders bossed most of the chances with an 18-9 advantage in shots. Sheldon Rempal fired a tough-angled wrister from the right circle past Sorokin for a soft go-ahead tally at the 7:18 mark. It was Rempal’s first career NHL goal.

Just 1:49 later, a Noah Dobson turnover gifted the puck back to the Knights in the Islanders zone, leading to a Nicolas Roy goal off a Sorokin rebound and a 3-1 lead for the visitors. 

“We just have to make better decisions,” Dobson said. “Mistakes happen, you just have to try and limit them. I can’t be throwing pucks in the middle… We’ll learn from it and keep getting better.”

Two power plays in the first half of the third period lent an opportunity for the Islanders to get back in it, but couldn’t muster much.

The penalty kill is what injected new life into the hosts. Following a Matt Martin hold, the vaunted shorthanded duo of Simon Holmstrom and Pageau struck again. This time, however, it was Holmstrom playing provider, as he dropped a pass at the left circle for Pageau, who wristed a shot through traffic and past Hill with 10:34 left in regulation. 

“We definitely have good chemistry and good cues on when to go and when not to go [on the penalty kill],” Pageau said of his shorthanded partnership with Holmstrom. “He made a good read, brought a d-man with him, and gave me a chance to shoot and it went in.”

A Barbashev hold gave the Islanders one more chance on the power play, but it was cut short with 32 seconds left on the advantage and 5:11 left in the game when Mathew Barzal was called for a hook.

For more on the Islanders, visit AMNY.com