The Islanders didn’t get the start they were looking for in their current 4 game road trip, as they lost their first game 5-2 against the Ottawa Senators. The road only gets harder for the Isles as they must now head to Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston, and can’t truly afford to get another regulation loss if they are to count this road trip a success.
The game started out on a good note as not even a minute in, a bad pinch by Erik Karlsson, led to the Islanders getting a 2-on-1 rush and finished with John Tavares going five hole on, Senator goaltender, Robin Lehner to give the Islanders an early 1-0 lead. The Islanders would continue their pressure throughout the first, but just failed to get anything else past Lehner, and as is so often the case in hockey, the lack of ability to finish off their opponent only ended up giving the Senators life in the second period.
Fast forward a couple of penalties and the Senators come out of the second period with a 2-1 lead, off goals by Milan Michalek, a result of a stupid penalty in the faceoff circle by recent call-up David Ullstrom, and Jason Spezza, who was given way too much space by Milan Jurcina and took advantage of it by firing a bullet past Nabokov.
Although down by one, the Islanders entered the third period with belief that they could come back… cue Mike Mottau. Coming from behind the net, the returnee made a blind pass to Nielsen, which very quickly turned into a turnover right on O’Brien’s stick in the slot and right past Nabokov.
However, the Islanders simply refused to go down without a fight, and a little bit under five minutes later a great keep in by Andrew MacDonald turned into PA Parenteau carrying the puck down the slot and putting it past Lehner to keep the Islanders in the game.
The Islanders continued to battle and battle, but tonight just wasn’t their night. Two scoring chances, one after another, turned into an Ottawa goal as Mark Streit broke his stick on a shot and was caught helpless on an Ottawa rush going the other way. Chris Neil deflected a puck midair and past Nabokov and basically ending the game. Kyle Turris would bury an empty netter, and close the game at 5-2.
While in the middle of a playoff race, the Islanders simply can’t afford to lose games that they should have in the bag after the first period. They can’t afford to not bury scoring chance after scoring chance, and keep teams around, simply because it will come back to haunt you as it did tonight. The Islanders need to fix their penalty kill, which has been a huge problem the past 2 games, as they allowed 4 PPG. Capuano mentioned the issue in his post game interview, “That’s an issue right now. It’s something that we really have to take a look at. We aren’t the highest scoring team in the league so our PK has to be good.”
Defenseman Travis Hamonic, who had 2 assists on the night, said the game was lost after Ottawa cashed in on their two power plays during the second period. “It’s frustrating trying to play catch up in the rest of the game,” Hamonic said. “When you have to play catch up like that, it’s unfortunate.”
The Islanders head to Washington on Tuesday night next, and can hardly afford another regulation loss to another team in the playoff hunt with them.