Kevin SchultzThe Islanders may or may not have played pretty well tonight, depending on your view of the game. But what’s for sure is that penalties and the failure of the penalty kill sunk the Islanders tonight.
The Canadiens were 2-for-5 on the power play on the night but the damage was done late in the second period. It was 1-1 at that point and anybody’s game. Montreal netted two power play goals, each with less than five minutes to go in the second.
First it was Michael Grabner taking a delay of game penalty by shooting the puck over the glass in his own zone (without any pressure on him, by the way). Lars Eller was the recipient of a nice pass from Alex Galchenyuk, which made the Islanders penalty kill look pretty awful. Not because it was an amazing pass, more so because you simply can’t stand around and let your opponents do things like this even if those opponents have lost four in a row:
After the Habs made it 2-1 on that play, things escalated quickly with Thomas Hickey taking a double-minor for high sticking. Montreal would add a power play goal during that four-minute stretch to push the lead to 3-1 heading into the intermission.
The penalty kill had a bad night (again, illustrated above) but it’s been an even worse road trip. They’re 17 for their last 30, which means they’ve surrendered 13 power play goals in 30 penalty kills. That’s a horrendous 56.6% success rate.
There’s another defensive concern here as well. Travis Hamonic left the game with three minutes to go after falling hard into the boards. He went off under his own power, so hopefully it’s not too serious. That would be a huge loss for a defensive corps already missing two players, one of which runs the power play.
In the third, Brock Nelson did cash in on the power play off a behind-the-net feed from John Tavares. Nelson found some open space in the crease and cashed in for his second of the year, as he played the entire game on the first line and top power play unit. The play would be reviewed, but the call stood.
Kevin Poulin seemed to play well for the Islanders tonight. One of the goals came off a deflection and two were getting no help from his defenders on the penalty kill. It’s tough to say that he had a good game because he allowed four goals, but there are clearly issues in front of him.
It’s now four in a row for the Islanders and they didn’t even earn any Bettamn points in any of those games. They’ll head back to Nassau this week for a chance to turn things around with three home games. But bad news; those three games are against better teams than any of the teams they faced on the road trip, as Nashville, Los Angeles and Detroit come to town.
Nothing’s clicking right now, the team is battling injuries and defensive/special teams units that are doing them literally no favors. They’ve talked about playing better, but they’ve yet to actually go out and do it.