Ex-Islander Rob Schremp scored the game winning goal to lead the visiting Atlanta Thrashers past the New York Islanders 2-1 Thursday night. The Islanders came out flat and managed only 15 shots on goal in an uninspired performance.
Andrew Ladd also scored for Atlanta while Chris Mason made 14 saves to earn the victory in a game in which he was rarely tested. John Tavares scored the only goal for the Islanders.
“We weren’t ready to play hockey tonight,” admitted Isles Coach Jack Capuano. “We just could never seem to get the legs underneath us that we needed…They took it to us pretty good.”
The Thrashers dominated the first period, outshooting the Isles 12-3 but good goaltending by Al Montoya kept the Islanders close. In fact, it took the Islanders nearly seven minutes to register their first shot on goal against an Atlanta team ranked near the bottom of the league defensively.
“We weren’t moving our feet,” Capuano explained when asked about his team’s lack of offense. “We weren’t in constant motion, we lost a lot of one-on-one battles and we looked really tired tonight.”
Ladd scored his team leading 27th goal of the year when he poked home a pass from Blake Wheeler at the 7:56 mark of the opening period. The Islanders defense left Ladd alone in the slot on the play.
The Isles played a bit better in the opening minutes of the second period and tied the game on Tavares’ tap in of the rebound of a P.A. Parenteau shot. Travis Hamonic made a good play to keep the puck in the Atlanta zone and start the Isles attack.
But the Islanders couldn’t sustain the momentum and were outshot in the second period 16-4. The Thrashers finally regained the lead on Schremp’s power play goal with 6:04 left in the middle stanza. With Radek Martinek in the penalty box for holding, Schremp beat Montoya with a low wrist shot to make it 2-1 Atlanta. Schremp had been claimed off waivers by the Thrashers from the Islanders last month.
The Isles played a bit better in the third period but still couldn’t put sustained pressure on Mason despite three power play chances including one in the final 33 seconds of the game.
“In the third period, we just simplified it a bit and just chipped more pucks in,” Isles forward Matt Moulson explained. “In the third we started moving and it seemed we got more chances. It was too little, too late.”
Tavares, who Capuano praised as one of the Islanders better players tonight, felt his team’s frustration. “It just seemed like we were sluggish most of the game and couldn’t really get much going,” Tavares said. “We were behind the play most of the night. We tried to get things going but [we had] too many turnovers, mistakes and breakdowns that just didn’t let us get in much rhythm and get in the game.”
The Islanders will look for a better effort when they return to action Saturday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Prior to the game, the Isles announced that defenseman Mark Streit would miss the rest of the season due to the shoulder injury he suffered at the team’s scrimmage in September.
P.A. Parenteau celebrated his 28th birthday tonight.
Trevor Gillies, who remains suspended, was the only Islander not in the lineup. Eric Boulton and Patrice Cormier were the Atlanta scratches.