The New York Islanders had their third three-game winning streak of the season snapped as they lost 3-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Islanders dropped the first of a home-and-home series with the Leafs, conceding an early goal and running into a formidable Jonas Gustavsson.
“It’s not good enough and we have to get back to the way we were doing things earlier in the week,” John Tavares. “We’ve had a couple slow starts, but for us, we have to be better right off the bat and establish our game.”
The Leafs drew first blood 1:37 into the game as Matthew Lombardi was credited for a goal in a scramble off of an Evgeni Nabokov rebound. The puck appeared to go off of Mark Streit and Lombardi was given his fifth goal of the season.
Gustavsson was sharp when he needed to be, but the Islanders were unable to generate many shots. The Leafs outshot the Isles 16-5 in the first period and 35-25 on the evening. Nabokov, the busier goaltender, stopped 32 of 35, allowing three goals for the first time since Jan. 12.
“It took us forever to get shots off tonight,” Jack Capuano said. “The bottom line is they went to the net harder than we went to the net.”
The loss also ended Tavares’ career-high 12-game point streak, the longest in the NHL this season. Tavares scored eight goals and 13 assists over the dozen games.
Despite outshooting Toronto 14-11 in the third period, the Leafs found the back of the net twice. Phil Kessel scored his team-leading 26th goal of the season and Lombardi scored his second of the game, snapping a wrist shot by Nabokov’s glove.
“Nabby kept us in it,” Matt Moulson said. “We didn’t deserve to win this game. We have another big one tomorrow. That’s the greatness of the NHL, you get to bounce back quickly.”
One area the Islanders continued to do well was their penalty kill. The Isles killed both of their penalties Monday and have killed 34 of their last 35. However, they were unable to draw any penalties, playing the game without a single man advantage.
Both teams don’t have much time to reflect on the game as they play again tomorrow night at Nassau Coliseum; it will be the last game for each team before the week-long All-Star break. The puck drops at 7 p.m.