The Islanders have had the bulk of the scoring chances as they split the first two games of this three-game homestand.
They certainly want that trend to continue against the Blues on Tuesday night at UBS Arena.
To do so, the Islanders will have to continue the defensive efforts that allowed them to transition up ice with frequency.
“I think we’ve done a better job in the defensive zone,” coach Lane Lambert said.
The Islanders (16-10-0) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-0 win over Chicago on Sunday night as Semyon Varlamov (21 saves) notched his first shutout of the season. The Islanders outchanced Chicago, 73-51.
They also outchanced the Predators, 77-43, in a 4-1 loss on Friday night that included two empty-net goals as Ilya Sorokin made 19 saves.
“Both of those teams have some pretty mobile defenseman,” Lambert said of Chicago’s Seth Jones and the Predators’ Roman Josi. “We’ve done a good job of limiting their movement and keeping them to the outside. That has led us into transitioning and creating more shots.”
To be fair, both the Predators and Chicago have had issues generating chances throughout the season. The Predators entered Monday ranked 25th in the NHL with 29.9 shots per game while Chicago, also next to last in the overall NHL standings, was 31st at 25.8.
The Blues were also averaging 29.9 shots per game entering their match with the Rangers on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Islanders won 5-2 in St. Louis on Nov. 3 though the Blues outchanched them, 62-50. It was the Blues’ sixth straight loss in what would turn into an eight-game losing streak. They faced the Rangers on Monday night having lost five of their last six.
Of course, Lambert said the way the Islanders need to defend to create offense does not change based on who they’re playing.
“It’s not really opponent specific,” Lambert said. “It’s just more of our structure and just nailing it down.”
The Islanders, who did not practice on Monday, have allowed 66 goals, the fifth fewest in the NHL. A large part of that is Varlamov (6-3-0, 2.52 goals-against average, .922 save percentage) and Sorokin (10-7-0, 2.17, .932)
“Those guys have been so good for us,” Zach Parise said. “Sometimes if we haven’t had a great start, or we’re a little sluggish, they make such timely, big saves. Important saves to keep it 0-0 or keep it 1-0.”