It was a hard-felt homecoming for the New York Islanders. Coming off of a five-day, three-game road trip, the team gave up a 2-1 decision to the Atlanta Thrashers. Former Islanders center Rob Schremp scored the game-winner on a power play midway through the second period.
Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said he sensed the team wasn't ready to play just by their performance during the team's morning skate.
“I have to give credit to them (the Thrashers), the way they played,” Capuano said. “I sensed at the pre-game skate this morning that after that trip when we came back, we weren’t ready in the pre-game skate. We weren’t ready to play hockey tonight.”
That’s clearly no excuse for the Islanders young team, who should have been playing like they had nothing to lose.
Goalie Chris Mason #50 of the Atlanta Thrashers looks back to see John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders shoot the puck into the empty net during the second period of an NHL hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum on March 24, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
“It was up to us to set the tempo,” Islanders goaltender Al Montoya said. “I felt like we just needed one bounce here or there for us to get back in the game. It just seems that we couldn’t generate it. We had our chances here and there, but for the most part it was a tough game.”
Instead, they put three shots on Chris Mason in the first, added four more in the second and then came alive in the third for a three period total of 15. In games where the Islanders have had it together, they’ve put 15 shots on net each stanza.
“We had too many turnovers, especially during the first two periods,” Islanders forward Matt Moulson said. “(In the third period), we just simplified it a bit and just chipped more pucks in. It seemed like we got more chances. I don’t think we were moving our feet enough in the first two periods. In the third we started moving and it seemed we got more chances. It was too little, too late.”
Once again, Montoya kept the Islanders in it, stopping 32 of 34 shots he faced.
One bright spot on the night was John Tavares, who Capuano said was one of the better players. He tied the score at one and came one goal closer to the 30-goal milestone (now with 27) just 1:38 into the second period, giving the Islanders a glimmer of hope.
“He was one of our better players tonight,” Capuano said of Tavares. “We struggled as a team for sure but Johnny (Tavares) played extremely hard. He was moving his feet and he went into the net; I liked his game down low defensively. He was pretty sound on his own end tonight.”
Unfortunately, Radek Martinek took a penalty for holding at 12:35 and Schremp was able to capitalize 1:21 later to bring the Thrashers to their final score 2-1.
Andrew Ladd scored the Thrashers first goal at 7:56 of the first period.
No doubt, the Islanders will be looking to come out hard, establishing momentum early, as they head into their matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.
“We have to bring our best every single night,” Montoya said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re coming off the road or on a road trip or whatever it may be. It’s doing what we’re paid to do, it’s coming out here and being professionals and showing up every single night to give this crowd something to cheer about.”