UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Another lead came and went for the Islanders as they watched the Montreal Candiens leave Nassau Coliseum with a 5-2 victory and an all-important two points in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Isles held the lead for just 3:55, before they tied the game midway through the second period. But what sunk the home team’s hopes of winning was yet another poor third period performance. The Islanders surrendered three goals in the final period that brought their third period goals allowed total to 45, which is the most allowed by any team in the NHL.
“We were slow,” John Tavares said after the game. “We were watching the play. We watched the third period pretty much.”
The Thursday night contest did not start well for New York, which spent most of the first period in their own zone. The Canadiens eventually capitalized on their opponents slow start and took a 1-0 lead off a power play goal by Michael Ryder.
Tavares responded for the Islanders at the 12:06 mark. He took drove to the net and roofed a shot over Carey Price from inside the slot to tie the game at one.
They grabbed hold of the lead in the second courtesy of Lubomir Visnovsky at the 6:58 mark. After the Canadiens rushed into the Isles zone, they countered with a quick charge up the other way. Some good puck movement helped set up Visnovsky’s goal.
The Islanders garnered some momentum from the goal, but it was short lived. Michael Grabner was sent to the box for hooking and PK Subban took full advantage of the Montreal power play, tying the game at two off a blast from the point.
In the third nothing could go right for the Islanders.
Brian Gionta scored 48 seconds into the period. The officials missed a blatant too many men on the ice call and Keith Aucoin was given a diving penalty after Subban shoved him after the whistle. Things would only get worse later on as they would surrender two more goals in the span of less than a minute to seal their second loss in a row at home.
‘The couple games before we seemed to have a couple lapses for a few minutes, but today we played slow and completely got away from our game,” Tavares explained. “I don’t know why. We’re not going to go anywhere if we’re playing like that. We’re going to find ourselves quickly out of this thing if we don’t start picking up and playing a full 60 minutes.”
The Islanders did catch a bit of a break as far as the playoff picture is concerned. Two of the three teams in front of them in the standings lost, which kept the Islanders three points out of a playoff spot.
But head coach Jack Capuano seemed concerned with the team’s battle level, which he believes is the key for his squad to be successful.
“That’s the name of the game,” he said. “We have to be able to win in the trenches with our battle level. It has nothing to do with structure. It has nothing to do with systems. It has nothing to do with anything else. This time of year what we’ve told the guys, with 19 games left, the teams that out will the opposition will win the game.”
The Islanders will get another chance tomorrow night, with Pittsburgh in town, to get two points and keep their playoff hopes alive.