CALGARY, Alberta — Lane Lambert wants the narrative around the Islanders to change over the next seven to 10 days.
The first step was taken by his team on Saturday when they finally won.
But the question after the 5-4 shootout victory over the Flames — courtesy of Oliver Wahlstrom’s game-winner in the fourth round — is whether or not the seven-game losing streak that preceded it will be enough for Lou Lamoriello to induce a narrative change that involves a new head coach behind the bench.
If this was Lambert’s chance to make a case for himself via his team’s play, the Islanders gave him a pretty good showing and as resilient a third period as he could have asked for.
Mackenzie Weegar’s tying goal at 3:11 of the third also seemed a time where the Islanders might have folded.
Instead, Brock Nelson potted Sebastian Aho’s rebound to give them a 4-3 lead just 19 seconds later, as Weegar’s goal was being announced.
So, too, did Yegor Sharangovich’s goal to tie it at four at the 13:43 mark.
But after frantically defending for the back half of the third period, the Islanders — at the sixth time of asking — finally won a game after regulation, prevailing in the skills competition after a frenetic three-on-three overtime.
The Islanders had their best game of five-on-five on the trip. They built an attack and generated a forecheck. The Islanders took the lead and kept it. They played well in both special teams, which is crucial.
The Islanders’ 3-1 second-period lead looked like it was going to cause problems more than once.
Blake Coleman got the Flames to 3-2 at 17:03 of the second and 39 seconds later — with Simon Holmstorm temporarily in the dressing room after eating a Nikita Zadorov one-timer — Adam Pelech was called for tripping.
This is exactly the kind of moment that the Islanders have been experiencing all season.
Holmstrom was back on the ice to kill the penalty and the Islanders kept the Flames away until Noah Hanifin received a slashing infraction with just over a minute left in the powerplay.
It is worth mentioning the repeated replies to Calgary goals scored in the third.
This is the kind of resilience that the Islanders did not show enough in this season.
After Martin Pospisil had put the Flames in front by 1-0, the Islanders scored three goals straight to open up a 3-1 advantage.
Hudson Fasching recovered the puck and fired it at Jacob Markstrom before the first half-time.
After Kyle Palmieri scored a power-play goal, the Islanders went ahead. Mathew Barrzal then took advantage of Rasmus Andersson’s defensive zone turnover to score a four-on-four goal at 8:07 in the second.
Whether Saturday will be enough to save Lambert isn’t known. It wasn’t when Jay Woodcroft was fired by the Oilers last week following a 4-1 win by Edmonton in Seattle.
Lambert stated that Lamoriello had not been informed of his current job status. He also reiterated his team’s good hockey play.
This is very easy to be ignored when your team is losing. There is now at least one positive spin on things.
The Islanders have a three-game streak of points, after losing in Vancouver and Seattle in overtime or a shootout.
Technically, they went.500 in the trip despite losing 3 of the 4 games.
The team is also at NHL-.500 despite only winning six games this season.
This would be a generous description.
It’s important to know how Lamoriello sees things.