The story is getting old for the New York Islanders. After 40 minutes, they were playing well enough to be tied with the Montreal Canadiens 2-2. But in the third period, the Isles allowed three goals and lost the game 5-2.
P.K. Subban scored twice for Montreal while Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais each had two assists for Montreal. John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky scored for the Islanders.
It’s an old story for this young Islanders team which gave up four goals to Ottawa Tuesday night and watched a 3-1 lead evaporate into a 5-3 regulation loss. Although the Isles remain just three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the team realizes they cannot continue to let precious chances like the last two games slip away.
“The game is won in the trenches,” a frustrated Isles Coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “If you don’t win the battles, you don’t have a chance to win the game…It’s the intangibles, it’s the little things…It’s battle level…This time of year, with 19 games left, the teams that out will the opposition will win the game…It’s the teams that grind it out, that play with that desperation that win those battles.”
Goalie Kevin Poulin got the start for the Islanders, his second start of the season since being called up from Bridgeport. He allowed five goals in 29 shots and looked at times like he was a bit rusty.
The Isles top line, which had been slumping a bit of late, scored both goals tonight with Matt Moulson assisting on both of the Isles goals. In fact, Visnovsky’s goal at the 6:58 mark of the second period gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead. But Subban’s first goal of the evening nearly four minutes later tied it and the teams went into the locker room tied 2-2 after 4o minutes. The game was tight and even with the Isles outshooting Montreal 20-19 after two periods.
But another poor third period left the Isles frustrated and looking for answers. Brian Gionta scored just 48 seconds into the final period to put Montreal ahead for good.
“We’ve got to have that killer instinct and understand that we can’t lay off the gas pedal a little bit just because we’ve got the lead or we’re playing well,” Tavares said. “The first 40 minutes of the last few games have been pretty good for us. We should be confident. We want to play with the lead. It takes a lot out of you to come back.”
The Isles have now allowed 45 goals in the third period this season, the most of any team in the NHL.
“There’s not much of an excuse,” captain Mark Streit admitted. “It’s just not acceptable.”
The players realize they need to solve their third period issues quickly. “We’re not going to go anywhere if we’re playing like that [the way they did in the third period]” Tavares admitted. “We’re going to find ourselves out of this pretty quickly if we don’t start playing a full 60 minutes, especially the third period when things are really decided in most games.”
The Islanders don’t have too much time to analyze this loss. They return to action Friday night when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. Islanders tickets for this and other games are available.
Both Michael Grabner and Matt Carkner returned to the lineup for the Islanders. They scratched Radek Martinek, Eric Boulton and Joe Finley.
Matt Moulson now has seven assists in his last six games.
Attendance for tonight’s game was 11,012.