The New York Islanders suffered their first loss of the season Saturday, falling 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.
Thomas Hickey scored his first goal of the campaign, putting the Islanders ahead 1-0, but three unanswered goals and a dry spell for the power play halted the Islanders four-game win streak.
“You’re not going to win every game and I just don’t think we had it from the start,” Hickey said. “There are some nights when you don’t have it. We were right there, but we couldn’t execute like we normally do and it ended up being a loss.”
The Islanders power play went 0-for-7 Saturday, but the turning point of the game came in the second period, when the Islanders failed to score on a five-on-three opportunity. The Islanders managed two shots in 1:26 of a two-man advantage, opening the door for the Penguins to stay in the game.
“The overall intensity [was missing] with some of our guys tonight,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “You could see the execution was down [on the power play], but give [Pittsburgh] credit for killing them. If you don’t score on a five-on-three, it’s a turning point in a game.”
Four minutes after the Islanders' missed opportunity, the Penguins got their own two-man advantage and converted twice. The Islanders had more power-play opportunities late in the game, but couldn’t muster a shot on their final two chances, after generating 12 shots on their first five. The dry spell ended a four-game scoring streak for the Islanders power play.
“We had a few chances and we just didn’t get good wood on them, or the timing was just off,” Islanders captain John Tavares said.
The Islanders played well five-on-five Saturday, as Hickey put the Islanders ahead 1-0 5:46 into the first period. Hickey finished the play blocker side on Marc-Andre Fleury, but it was Ryan Strome who found the trailing defenseman, setting him up for a clear shot. Hickey’s goal was the sixth by an Islanders defenseman this season
The 1-0 lead lasted into the first intermission, as Jaroslav Halakmade 16 of his 35 saves in the opening frame.
Eventually, the Penguins snipers got the better of the Islanders goaltender, as Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist scored 55 seconds apart on the Penguins game-changing power play. Malkin beat Halak with a wrister over his right shoulder on the five-on-three, while Hornqvist tipped home a Malkin drive less than a minute later.
Fleury stopped 34-of-35 shots for the win, while Hornqvist added an empty netter with 1:20 to play.
The Islanders return home to Nassau Coliseum Tuesday for a date with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.