Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Islanders’ young guns played well Friday night, but the more experienced San Jose Sharks left Nassau Coliseum with a 4-3 victory.
The loss was the 17th defeat on home ice this year for the Isles and moved them to an NHL worst 9-17-8 at home. The Islanders started off the game well, but the Sharks responded and were first to score in the opening period.
Matt Nieto was able to beat former Shark Evgeni Nabokov stick side to put the visitors ahead 1-0. The Sharks jumped ahead 2-0 1:19 later courtesy of a tough angle shot from Jason Demers. The Islanders were able to pull within one in the second period, but San Jose extended their lead back to two goals after Joe Thornton took advantage of a juicy rebound given up by Nabokov.
The Islanders came within one goal once again at 17:02 of the second, however the Sharks scored over a minute later to make it 4-2. Frans Nielsen scored with 22 seconds left in the third period to cut it the San Jose lead to 4-3, but the Islanders could not tie the game with the remaining time.
“Great effort from our guys tonight,” Islander Coach Jack Capuano said. “That’s one hell of a hockey team over there. They have a lot of skill. You can see early on when you get a little bit of a breakdown it’s in the back of your net… A couple of our young guys, we had a couple mistakes that we gotta correct in the D-zone, but they worked hard tonight as a group.”
And the Islanders did play decent for most of the game. The start of the contest saw the Isles swarm San Jose, but they just didn’t capitalize. Rookies Brock Nelson and Anders Lee continued their strong play, with each scoring a goal in the loss.
Lee was on the Isles top line and finished the game with two points (1 goal, 1 assist).
“I’m just trying to get the pucks to the net. Try to hang around there and sometimes they go,” he said after the game in response to a question about his strong play.
Friday night was also the NHL debut of Johan Sundstrom, who played 10:28 against the Sharks.
As well as some of the young Islanders played there is still things for them to learn. Players like Ryan Strome, who finished the game a minus-3 and struggled a bit in the loss, still have aspects of their game to iron out and Capuano understands that.
“Some of these are learning now,” said Capuano. “They’re learning the tough way and you can see that when you see a couple of the goals that were against tonight. But as a coach you have to stay positive with these young guys. They’re 20-years-old, you have to keep teaching them and you have to find a way.”