The New York Islanders came into the month of November looking to build off the tremendous start they had gotten off to in October. The Islanders went 6-4-0 in October and it looked like all of the young talent on the roster was finally bringing it all together.
Unfortunately, the Islanders ended the first month of the 2014-15 season on a two-game skid and many fans panicked that another horrific month of November could be on the horizon. In November 2013-14, the Islanders went on an abysmal stretch that included a four-game and six-game losing streak along with a few other losses in between. By the end of the month, the Islanders were fighting an uphill battle that was too much for them to overcome and the 2013-14 season was essentially a lost cause.
The Islanders started this November with their third straight loss, falling 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks. It was starting to feel like deja vu all over again for Islanders fans. Even though at this point it was clear this team was far and away better than last year’s team, you couldn’t blame the fans for feeling this way. As Murphy’s law states, anything that can go wrong will go wrong for the New York Islanders.
Things were looking bleak as the Islanders’ next two games on their west coast trip would put them up against one of the most potent scoring teams in the NHL in the Anaheim Ducks and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. However, the Islanders passed this early November test with flying colors, grinding out a 3-2 overtime win over the Ducks and a 2-1 shootout win over the Kings. They would end their west coast trip with a 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes and head back to Long Island on a three-game winning streak.
The Islanders got back to the barn seeking revenge for a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche just 12 days prior. The Islanders reversed the score and added one more for good luck, dominating the Avalanche 6-0.
Three days later, the Islanders went down to South Florida and blew a two-goal lead in the third period (a very common theme for the Islanders over the past couple of seasons), but bounced back to beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 in a shootout. The following day, the Islanders were in Tampa and hit a bump in the road with a 5-2 loss to the Lightning. But a good host always returns the favor. The Islanders and Lightning met at The Barn three days later with the same final score, but this time it was the Islanders celebrating a win.
Perhaps the two biggest games of November came the following weekend in a back-to-back home and home series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many questioned head coach Jack Capuano’s decision to start goalie Chad Johnson in the first game on the road against Marc Andre Fleury when Thomas Greiss would be starting the next day. But it couldn’t have worked out better for the Islanders. They took the first game in Pittsburgh 5-4 in a shootout and then beat Greiss and the Penguins 4-1 the next day with Jaroslav Halak in net. The two wins over the Penguins moved the Islanders into first place in the Metropolitan division and the two teams would both jockey for position atop the division for the following months to come.
It took 65 minutes of nobody scoring, but the Islanders were able to continue their winning streak with a 1-0 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The shootout was won courtesy of a beautiful backhand goal by John Tavares. But Halak’s glove save on Claude Giroux on the previous play might have been even more impressive.
Tavares would continue the heroics again two days later with an overtime goal that gave the Islanders a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on the night before Thanksgiving. Two days later, the Islanders went to the nation’s capital to finish the home-and-home series but this time the Capitals won 5-2.
The Islanders finished November with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. However, it certainly felt like the Devils were going to at least tie the game in the third period. The Islanders were clinging to a 2-1 lead with the most of the period taking place shorthanded in their own zone. Finally Casey Cizikas cashed in an empty-netter with four seconds left in the game to secure the win.
The Islanders reversed the misfortunes of last season’s November with an 11-3-0 record.