The New York Islanders are searching for answers after dropping their fifth straight game and their 10th loss in their last 12 games. The Detroit Red Wings invaded the Nassau Coliseum Friday afternoon and came away with an easy 5-0 victory. The Islanders are still trying to figure out why things are going so wrong.
“We’ve got to try to find some answers and clean up our mistakes,” captain John Tavares said after the game. “We’re an easy team to play against right now. We have breakdowns, especially in our own end. We’re having a tough time coming out of our own end and we’re just not moving our feet and engaging. We can’t give them time and space like we did tonight.”
Many of the goals and scoring chances allowed by the Islanders came off mistakes tonight that included a litany of blown coverages, turnovers, lost puck battles and poor execution. At times, the fans voiced their frustration with their club’s poor performance.
The Red Wings led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Darren Helm at 7:09. Despite the fact that the score was close and the Islanders actually outshot Detroit 12-9, the Red Wings had more quality chances and maintained possession of the puck in the Islanders zone for long periods of time.
Helm made it 2-0 Detroit with a shorthanded goal that illustrated many of the Islanders recent struggles. Isles goalie Kevin Poulin hesitated when going for a loose puck as Helm and Andrew MacDonald raced for it. Helm got there first and tipped the puck ahead as all three players collided sending Helm flying forward and MacDonald over the top of Poulin. The puck slide into the net while the two Isles players shook their heads in frustration. The Red Wings led 2-0 after 40 minutes.
Any doubts that the Isles could get back into the game in the third period evaporated just 12 seconds in when Daniel Alfredsson scored on a breakaway to make it 3-0 Detroit. Thomas Hickey coughed the puck up in the neutral zone and Brendan Smith hit Alfredsson with a long, tape-to-tape pass that sent him in behind the remaining Isles defenders. He beat Poulin high to the glove side and quickly it was 3-0.
Goals by Gustav Nyquist and a second goal by Alfredsson provided the final 5-0 margin for Detroit and left the Islanders with an empty feeling.
“We’ve been down this road before,” Matt Martin said. “When you’re losing games, it’s like quick sand. Things aren’t going right and it gets harder and harder to win. But we’ve got to find a way to get out of it. We’ve got to dig deeper and do whatever we can to win a hockey game. Stick together, get dirty and do whatever it takes. Luckily, we’ve got a game tomorrow. We’ve got to go out there and find a way to win.”
Coach Jack Capuano is also searching for answers. He sat out the slumping Josh Bailey, making him a healthy scratch. He mixed and matched his lines and defense pairings. His team’s sloppy performance left him very disappointed.
“You saw our execution,” Capuano said. “We made some decisions with the puck that weren’t very good. We can’t do that against that team or any team for that matter.”
The Islanders return to action Saturday night when they host the Washington Capitals.
Attendance was 14,826.
In addition to Bailey, Eric Boulton and Calvin De Haan were scratched. The Isles also remain without defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait.
Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi missed the game for Detroit.
The last time the Red Wings beat the Islanders in regulation time was November 28, 2003 when the Red Wings shut out the Isles 6-0.