The New York Islanders were shutout 5-0 by the Blackhawks at Chicago Stadium on Sunday night. Even though the Islanders didn’t pull through with a win, they finished their longest road trip of the 2010-2011 season above .500, winning three of their five games against Western Conference opponents.
“It’s a positive spin – we’re coming home 3-2 – but there were things in the offensive zone that we didn’t do properly,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “They did a great job using the back of the net, finding soft areas, using their points, so obviously they had good offensive zone play tonight. And we got away from ours.”
But the Islanders are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games, making Sunday night’s loss uncharacteristic of the Islanders recent success.
“Other than tonight and probably against the Rangers the other week, we’ve been handling adversity a lot better and just executing our game plan a lot better,” Islanders forward John Tavares said. “That’s what’s been working but we didn’t do that tonight.”
Instead, the Islanders allowed the Blackhawks to control the momentum from the opening faceoff, forcing Nathan Lawson to face 45 shots, of which he made 40 saves. As a result, Islanders forward PA Parenteau said the team “absolutely” made the game difficult on their goaltender.
“We didn’t play very well and we didn’t show up for him (Lawson),” Parenteau said. “That’s unacceptable. We’re going to have to fix that.”
But Capuano was glad Lawson stuck with it.
Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders tries to score on goalie Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks on January 9, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
“Nathan (Lawson) battled hard right until the end and that’s all we can ask of our guys,” Capuano said.
Four minutes and fifty-two seconds into the game, Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp scored a power play goal to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. The goal was the first goal allowed by the Islanders penalty kill unit since the Islanders loss to the Rangers on Dec. 27, a six-game span.
“We haven’t started well the last three games, and that probably took a toll on us in the last two, but a team like us can’t afford to take a period off or even the first 10 minutes off, especially against the defending (Stanley Cup) champions. So it cost us,” Tavares said.
Then in the second period, the Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals to bring the score to 5-0. Marian Hossa scored 2:10 into the period, followed by a goal from Patrick Kane at 7:19, Daniel Bolland at 16:24 and Neil Hjalmarsson at 19:04.
The Islanders were disappointed with their loss.
“I think we got away from our game plan,” Islanders forward Michael Grabner said. “I think we tried to do things one way but it doesn’t work obviously so we have to get back to work and do what our coaches tell us to do.”
The Islanders only recorded 29 shots on net, but Tavares, Grabner, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau all had some solid opportunities. They were ultimately shut down by Corey Crawford, who recorded the second NHL shutout of his career with the win.
Grabner referring to his multiple breakaway attempts said, “The first one was a good save by Crawford. I should have waited a half of a second longer, but he made a good save.”
With the loss, the Islanders are just hoping to put it behind them and are looking forward to the next contest, when the Islanders return to Long Island to face the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
“We have Vancouver coming in two days at home and we’re looking forward to going back,” Parenteau said.