Since the Islanders broke a 14 game winless streak nine days ago, the team has skid again. They have dropped three straight to Division rivals, the latest being a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Sunday’s matinee at Nassau Coliseum in front of a crowd of 7,773.
“They’ve got to find a way to win,” said Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano. “That’s what we’re talking about. Mentally, it’s probably draining on them. It’s tough on them, but you know what, they’re professionals. They play in the best League in the world, and they have to figure it out.”
Clearly, the team is frustrated. They’ve tried changing line combinations, changing the special teams units, practicing different systems, and yet, they’re still struggling to create havoc and score goals.
“You can see that when they got the first goal, it was tough on the bench, but when we got the second one guys were really flying out there,” Islanders center Frans Nielsen said. “But unfortunately, they got that power play goal and we fell down a little bit again. That can’t happen.”
At the start of the third period, the score was 1-0 Flyers and the game was still up for grabs. Coming off of the scoreless second period (outshooting the Flyers 15 to nine), the Islanders found the momentum missing from the first period and outplayed the Flyers.
Jeff Carter #17 and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers defend against Jon Sim #16 of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on December 5, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Jon Sim tied the score at 5:12 when PA Parenteau’s shot deflected off of his skate and past Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Just 36 seconds later, the Islanders gained the lead as Nielsen skated through the neutral zone up the right side of the boards and slapped a shot through Bobrovsky’s legs.
The Islanders held the lead for 5:46 before Andreas Nodl tied the score at two with just three seconds left on the Islanders penalty kill. Matt Moulson had gone to the penalty box for holding at 9:37.
The Flyers game-winning goal was more of the same as the Islanders failed to clear the puck after blocking an attempt and Danny Briere brought the puck through the slot to score at 14:16.
“A-Mac blocked a shot, it goes right to their guy and he just pokes it in the net,” Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski said. “When we get shots from the point, if we get shots blocked, it goes to their guy and they dump it down the ice. It’s repetitive. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. It’s baffling how many times it has happened this year.”
No matter what, goaltending is not to blame for the Islanders lack of success.
“Our goalies have been fine,” Capuano said. “(Dwayne Rolson) gave us a chance to win the game (28 saves). He made a couple big saves and gave us a chance to win the hockey game. They got a shot through and just the one little flip over the shoulder of Roli on the power play, and we lost coverage on Briere on the last goal.”
While the Islanders outshot the Flyers 30-27, they only generated four shots in the first period. And while the Flyers first goal (13:42 of the first period) was not on the power play, Matt Carle scored just three seconds after Blake Comeau stepped back on the ice after serving a penalty for tripping.
“(We had a) bad first period,” Parenteau said. “I don’t think that we came out the way we were supposed to and that hurt us definitely. I think we played pretty good after that in the second when we got our legs back and then in the third we scored two goals, but we still found a way to lose.”
After failing on four attempts Sunday afternoon, the Islanders are now 0-for-36 on the power play in their last 11 games.
“I guess we lost on the special teams again,” Nielsen said. “Even the first goal, the guy (Comeau) pretty much had just stepped onto the ice. So they basically had two power play goals and we didn’t have any. It seems like the same story over and over.”
The Islanders have three days to regroup before they fly to Boston to take on the Bruins at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
1 - 0 PHI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI
2 - 2 Tie