The Islanders led 3-1 after two periods, but gave up four unanswered goals, ultimately falling 5-3 to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
The loss spoiled Thomas Vanek’s two-goal night, as the Austrian winger had hot hands in one of his best performances as an Islander. He was outdone by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who scored a hat trick en route to a four-point night. Corey Perry picked up the primary helper on all three of Getzlaf’s goals, while Mathieu Perreault and Kyle Palmeiri also scored in the comeback.
“We have to do a better job in a lot of areas, especially in our defensive zone and our coverage,” Islanders captain John Tavares said. “You thought this week, we’d be able to build [on Friday’s win], and obviously today’s disappointing.”
With the score tied at one late in the second period, Vanek and Frans Nielsen scored 57 seconds apart to give the Islanders the two-goal advantage. Vanek intercepted a pass at the Islanders blueline, streaked down the wing and ripped a slap shot past Frederik Andersen. Nielsen followed that with a good drive to the net and snuck a snap shot through Andersen.
The lead didn’t last long, as Getzlaf scored 1:10 into the third period, corralling a loose rebound in the slot and beating Evgeni Nabokov.
“The first minute they came out hard and scored that goal, but after that I thought we were fine for [the next] nine minutes,” Vanek said.
Vanek and Tavares had a chance to restore the two-goal lead on a two-on-one-rush, but Tavares was denied by Frederik Andersen. Shortly after, Perreault tied the score, banging home another loose puck in front of Nabokov. The Islanders were called for a contested icing on the play prior to Perreault’s goal.
“We were frustrated at the no calls and the icings,” Vanek said. “But we tend to focus on that instead of the task at hand.”
Palmieri’s goal was also the result of an icing, keeping tired Islanders on the ice for a crucial draw. Getzlaf won the faceoff to Palmieri, who walked in and beat Nabokov. Getzlaf completed the trick with an empty-netter at 19:38.
“We could have made simple plays and instead we iced the puck,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “It resulted in two goals. We tried to hold the puck too long and it’s not going to work against a Stanley Cup caliber team like that that can wear you down.”
The loss ended a three-game point streak for the Islanders, as well as a four-game home point streak. In goal, Nabokov made 26 saves in the loss, while Andersen stopped 18 in the win.
The Islanders wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule on the road Monday against the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop from the Motor City is at 7:30 p.m.