The New York Islanders winless streak has now reached 12 games (0-11-1) after a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
Mike Santorelli scored twice while Thomas Vokoun made 39 saves to lead the Panthers to victory. Matt Moulson notched the only Isles goal of the game. The Islanders have now scored just 11 goals in their last 10 games and have not scored more than two goals in a game since October 27.
Collectively, this team is looking for answers to their agonizing slump which has already cost Scott Gordon his job. Right now, solutions appear tough to come by.
“We can’t really put our finger on it,” admitted defenseman Mike Mottau. “It’s not just one thing it’s a number of different things that have crept into our game and the result is this long losing streak. It’s very frustrating and we’re trying to work our way out of it. We’ve played well enough in spurts but not well enough for a full 60.”
The Islanders scored first for only the second time during this winless streak when Matt Moulson intercepted a clearing attempt by ex-Islander Bryan McCabe and lifted a shot just under the cross bar from between the circles at the 13:07 mark of the opening period.
Late in the first period, the Isles had an excellent chance to add to their lead when David Booth and Bryan Allen took minor penalties 15 seconds apart but they failed to covert on the 5-on-3. The momentum shifted to the Panthers shortly after they killed off the two-man advantage.
Florida tallied two goals in 39 seconds early in the second period with Santorelli scoring on a wicked wrist shot at the 2:27 mark and Marty Reasoner deflecting a shot by Radek Dvorak past a screened Dwayne Roloson to give the Panthers a lead they never relinquished.
Three minutes later, Santorelli potted his second goal of the night on an easy tap in after Roloson gave up a big rebound that was pounced on by David Booth who calmly passed to Santorelli all alone in front of an open net.
Stephen Weiss scored off a wrist shot between the circles with 9:39 left in the second period to give the Panthers a 4-1 lead and close out the scoring for the evening.
There is definitely a strong feeling of frustration in the Islanders dressing room. “As a team, we need to take it upon ourselves and just look at ourselves in the mirror and look at ourselves and say have we done enough to win a hockey game tonight,” Roloson said. “Whether it’s blocking shots or getting sticks in lanes, stopping a puck that’s on the line or going to the net and getting one in off your butt that goes into the net to try to change the way this thing is going right now.”
Isles’ Coach Jack Capuano said changes would be made if the team continued to struggle the way it has. “We had a couple of passengers tonight,” Capuano admitted. “It’s game one and two [since Capuano took over as head coach]. As we move forward, they’ve got to be held accountable and we’ve got to give ourselves the best chance to win a hockey game.”
Since the team has already made a coaching change, the possibility that GM Garth Snow will make some trades to spark this team looms over the players, although to a man, they tried to put that out of their thoughts. “Our minds have to be on winning the games, you can’t be worried about that,” said Moulson. “It’s professional sports. Our first thing is worrying about finding ways to win and playing with a little more passion and heart.”
The Islanders return to action Sunday afternoon as they travel to Atlanta to face the Thrashers.
Captain Doug Weight was scratched due to back spasms. Trevor Gillies was the other Isles scratch.
The Panthers scratches were Steve Bernier, Steven Reinprecht and Rostislav Olesz.
Jesse Joensuu was in the lineup to replace Jon Sim who was returned to Bridgeport.
The Isles wore camouflage jerseys during warm-ups in honor of Military Appreciation Night.