Since the start of the 2021-22 season — his first full year with the New York Islanders — right-winger Kyle Palmieri hasn’t had the best luck.
Only 18 skaters in the entire NHL have hit more posts on shot attempts that stayed out of the net than his eight to pair with five goals that were called back by official review.
Needless to say, Wednesday night at UBS Arena was a good one for the 31-year-old Long Island native.
After being held scoreless for the six games of the season — including a power-play chance on opening night that found iron — Palmieri potted a pair in the Islanders’ 3-0 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers at UBS Arena.
“You want to put as many pucks on net and those two found a way in,” he said following the win. “I had a couple good looks, a post early, a crossbar the other night. Sometimes they find a way in.”
Both came from similar spots between the dots — roughly 13 feet away from goal — exhibiting a dangerous shot that had been on hiatus throughout the majority of his Islanders career.
He finally got a little bit of luck in his favor, though, on his second tally of the night.
Nursing a two-goal lead in the third period, he put the finishing touches on the Rangers at the 15:22 mark when he sent a spinning snipe through a pair of defenders, off the crossbar and in.
“The second one tonight could’ve easily hit the bar and gone out,” he said. “But it’s something you try to be consistent and help your team win. It was nice to contribute on the scoresheet.”
What might be even nicer for the Islanders is that a partnership between Palmieri and Jean-Gabriel Pageau yielded results — which is a notion that’s been at a premium for head coach Lane Lambert during the opening portion of the 2022-23 season with his forwards struggling to find the back of the net.
Pageau provided assists on both of Palmieri’s goals, but had the primary helper to open the scoring. As the Islanders found their attacking legs in the second period and sustained pressure in the Rangers’ zone, the center Pageau settled a loose puck that looked destined to list toward the boards and out of harm’s way for Palmieri in that high-danger area. The winger snuck a wrister under the arm of Jaroslav Halak with 8:44 gone in the period which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
“It was an awesome play,” Palmieri said of Pageau’s assist. “It was a broken rush… I knew [Ryan Pulock and Pageau] were going toward the net so I wanted to get something toward there. It kind of deflected toward the middle and Pager made a great play to bump it back there.”
This is a reunification of the two forwards on the Islanders’ third line after getting looks together last season. Lambert slotted Palmieri on the first line to start the season but has since shuffled things up in an attempt to find a spark in his forward lines.
“They’re both straight-line guys… they both get to the net, but Palms is a shooter,” Lambert said. “You saw that [Wednesday]. Basically, they’re straight-line guys and they complement each other in that aspect.”
In a little over 12 minutes of play together this season, the partnership of Pageau and Palmieri has now yielded two goals. Lines that included their partnership scored just 18 in over 370 minutes of ice time last season.
“I think we’re just pretty similar players. We just keep in north-south, get it in on the forecheck,” Palmieri echoed. “When your linemates are all going, it makes it easy for you.”