The New York Islanders had won three straight in Toronto entering Tuesday night, but fell 5-2 to the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
Casey Cizikas and Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders, who dropped their fifth-straight road game. Mason Raymond’s third period goal held up as the game-winner, while Phil Kessel (two goals), Joffrey Lupul (three assists) and Trevor Smith (one goal, two assists) had big nights for the Maple Leafs.
“We definitely weren’t hard enough on their skill and that’s unacceptable,” Cizikas said. “We played without a heartbeat tonight and it showed on the scoreboard.”
The Islanders outshot the Maple Leafs 37-24, but the advantage did not show up on the scoresheet. The Isles also couldn’t translate 19 Leafs giveaways into offensive production.
“There were a lot of shots…but there wasn’t too much difficulty in wearing them down,” John Tavares said. “Offensively we didn’t make it too tough for them coming out of their zone.”
The Islanders found themselves on the wrong side of an early goal, as Smith scored on the Maple Leafs first shot 22 seconds into the game. The Isles rebounded from the early deficit, outshooting the Leafs 11-8 through 20 minutes, but still trailed 1-0.
After Kessel put the Leafs up by two, Cizikas turned a blocked shot into a breakaway and put the Isles on the board at 19:48 of the second. The Toronto, ON, native showed soft hands, sliding the puck through Jonathan Bernier’s five-hole. Cizikas also hit the post on the Isles’ second-best chance of the period. He now has goals in three straight games.
“Any time you show the willingness to block shots it leads to results and that’s what Casey’s been doing,” head coach Jack Capuano said.
The Islanders momentum did not carry over, as Raymond scored his eighth of the season at 3:39 of the third period, catching the Islanders on a bad change. David Clarkson scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf at 12:52, stretching the lead to three.
Nielsen gave the Islanders some hope with his team-leading 10th goal at 15:14, but Kessel iced the game with his second of the night at 17:17.
Kevin Poulin made 19 saves in the loss, while Bernier turned aside 35 for the Leafs.
The Islanders continue their three-game road trip Friday night in Pittsburgh. Puck drop against the Penguins is at 7 p.m.
Notes: Travis Hamonic led the Islanders with 27:18 TOI… Colin McDonald led the Islanders with six hits and also finished plus-1… Josh Bailey picked up his second assist in as many games… Tavares saw his five-game point streak end.
29 Brock Nelson – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard – 16 Peter Regin – 13 Colin McDonald
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
47 Andrew MacDonald – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 46 Matt Donovan
55 Aaron Ness – 7 Matt Carkner
60 Kevin Poulin
45 Anders Nilsson
Maple Leafs Lines:
21 James van Riemsdyk – 24 Peter Holland – 81 Phil Kessel
19 Joffrey Lupul – 23 Trevor Smith – 71 David Clarkson
12 Mason Raymond – 11 Jay McClement – 41 Nikolai Kuleman
38 Frazer McLaren – 22 Jerred Smithson – 28 Colton Orr
3 Dion Phaneuf – 36 Carl Gunnarsson
51 Jake Gardiner – 4 Cody Franson
44 Morgan Reilly – 15 Paul Ranger
45 Jonathan Bernier
34 James Reimer