Islanders head coach Patrick Roy talks with his players during the...

Islanders head coach Patrick Roy talks with his players during the first period against the Panthers at UBS Arena on Jan. 27. Credit: Jim McIsaac

We’ll get to the analytics soon, because those advanced statistics provide somewhat of a counterpoint to this general observation about the Islanders: They are trending upward under coach Patrick Roy.

By eye test, their 3-2 win Monday night in Toronto after an eight-day All-Star break to snap an 0-2-1 skid in which Roy kept saying he saw progress provided a strong template for how they must play in what, very likely, will become another down-to-the-wire playoff push. We’ll see how they follow up Thursday night against the Lightning at UBS Arena in yet another measuring-stick match.

In order, Roy’s five games behind the Islanders’ bench have been against the playoff-bound Stars, defending Stanley Cup-champion Vegas, an emotional return to Montreal, the defending Eastern Conference-champion Panthers and the offensively-gifted Maple Leafs.

“There’s still stuff we’ve got to clean up,” defenseman Scott Mayfield said. “The Maple Leafs hit that slot area, they buzzed around their zone. We’ve got to make sure we close quick and end that movement. When we’re physical, we end the movement a little more. End that movement and then we can go through our breakout and our plays. It was a good game, I think we’re still coming, still learning and it’s good to see.”

The Islanders were hard on the puck. They were physical, outhitting the Maple Leafs 40-25 well before Cal Clutterbuck’s late cross-check on John Tavares as the teams wrestled after the final buzzer. They were tenacious as Pierre Engvall scored the winner at 17:58 of the third period after Tavares tied the game on the power play a little more than two minutes earlier.

They are getting healthier. Defensemen Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech returned from injuries. Fourth-line center Casey Cizikas (long-term injured reserve/lower body) has started skating with the team.

“Out of the break, you want to start strong,” said Pulock, who missed 24 games with a lower-body injury while Pelech, because of the break, only missed one after taking an illegal hit to the head. “We know that we’re going to have to put some points together to get into the playoffs. Tonight was the first step in doing that.”

Before Monday’s match, Roy cited a team-kept statistic that the Islanders in their past four games were first in the NHL in limiting the opponent in the offensive zone.

Public analytic sites said somewhat otherwise about Monday’s performance. had the Islanders’ Corsi for at 49.15% to the Maple Leafs’ 50.85% at five-on-five. That site also gave the Maple Leafs the edge in high-danger chances, 15-11 at five-on-five., which lists the Islanders chances of making the playoffs at 14.27%, reported that, based on 1,000 simulations, the Maple Leafs had a 65.1% chance to win that game and that the Maple Leafs’ expected goals was 4.34 to the Islanders’ 2.63.

But here’s a big reason for hope down the stretch, goalie Ilya Sorokin’s goals saved above expected was 2.34 against the Maple Leafs.

So, still work to be done. But it’s not hard to see an upward trend.

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