The Islanders battled, but could not overcome a 3-0 deficit, falling 3-2 to the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
“We don’t want to engage and play the way we need to play until we’re down,” Tavares said. “We just weren’t good enough from the start of the game to the finish. We need more.”
The game remained scoreless through 30 minutes, before Jets defenseman Mark Stuart broke the ice with his first goal of the season at 11:27. The Jets won an offensive-zone draw before Stuart slapped a shot on net, which deflected off an Islanders stick and past Kevin Poulin.
Just over three minutes later, Jets captain Andrew Ladd finished off a give-and-go with Blake Wheeler for the Jets’ second goal. Devin Setoguchi tipped home his sixth goal of the season, capping off the blitz at 16:42
“We have to do a better job of answering back after we get scored on,” Travis Hamonic said.
The Islanders responded about a minute later, on the power play, as MacDonald ripped a high shot on Al Montoya.
Tavares brought the Islanders within a goal in the third period, burning Tobias Enstrom wide, curling out in front of the net and scoring five-hole on Montoya. The goal sparked the Islanders, who pressured the Jets on a power play less than a minute later.
The top power-play unit came close, but the Islanders watched as a flurry of chances slid through the crease and bounced off Montoya.
“With our unit, we got back to getting pucks to the net,” Tavares said. “It’s crazy with the amount of bounces how a couple of them stayed out.”
Other Islanders had their chances in the third, as Frans Nielsen rang a shot off the far post, but Montoya stopped 9-of-10 in the third period and 28-of-30 in the game. Poulin made 26 saves in the loss, none bigger than stopping a shorthanded Evander Kane breakaway late in the third period.
The Islanders will regroup with a Thanksgiving practice before hosting the Detroit Red Wings Friday afternoon. Puck drop is at 4 p.m.
Notes: Andrew MacDonald played Wednesday with a facial protector and led the team in ice time (30:16) and blocked shots (3)… Casey Cizikas’ five-game point streak (3g/2a) ended Wednesday… The Islanders held their annual food drive before the game.