Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. – A familiar storyline reared its’ ugly head Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
With a two-goal lead heading into the third period, the Islanders watched as that lead disappeared in the game’s final frame. They then watched as Tyler Toffoli scored the game winner with just 1:27 left on the clock to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 come from behind victory.
“Two points we’re gonna be kicking ourselves about in a game we played pretty well obviously until the third period,” John Tavares said after the loss.
“Every part of our game let us down. The power play to start, the penalty kill, five-on five. Just not good enough and we gotta get these messages through our head about what it takes to win on a consistent basis against good hockey teams.”
The Islanders had carried a two-goal lead after forty minutes had been played. Casey Cizikas scored at 2:44 of the second period to give the Islanders the 1-0 lead. A little over two minutes later Aaron Ness scored his first NHL goal from the slot to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead.
But once the third period came things quickly turned.
Nearly six minutes into the period Slava Voynov found a hole in Poulin and cut the Isles lead to one. The Kings continued to push the Islanders back on their heels and at 12:15 Tanner Pearson tied the game. Pearson’s shot snuck through Poulin’s five-hole and just crossed the line.
The dagger came with 1:27 left in the game, just after the Islanders had two scoring chances on the other end of the ice. A shot from the point by Jake Muzzin was redirected by Toffoli past Poulin.
“I think it just comes down to we didn’t do the things we were doing in the first two periods,” Ness said about the Isles third period letdown. “We weren’t getting pucks deep again and a couple turnovers here and there. And just not getting on their D fast enough. They have high firepower there and it can give up a two goal lead in a hurry.”
And that it did.
The Islanders only registered three shots in the final 20 minutes of Thursday’s game and spent most of it in their own zone. In comparison, New York outshot the Kings 15-5 in the previous period. To make matters worse, a power play that carried over from the previous period looked flat and did not generate any momentum for the home squad.
“We just didn’t play sixty minutes, that’s all,” said Kevin Poulin, who made 21 saves in the loss. “We played the two first periods and and we came out flat in the third.”
Squandered third period leads have become something that is all too familiar for this Islanders team. On Tuesday night the Islanders, had a less than stellar third when they defeated the Nashville Predators, but tonight the flat play came back to bite them.
The Detroit Red Wings are next on deck for the Islanders and if they hope to beat their new Eastern Conference foe, a flat third period is one thing they cannot afford.