It was an old story for the Islanders Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum: a little too much Nazem Kadri and too little consistency on defense led to a 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kadri scored three goals to earn his first career hat trick while Dion Phaneuf scored the game winner in overtime. Kyle Okposo led the Isles attack with a goal and two assists.
The loss dropped the Isles home record to 2-8-1 on the season.
“We’ve been inconsistent obviously,” Isles Coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “That’s an area that we talk about as a team. We have to stop talking about the structure and the frame-work. We know what our roster is. We know how we have to play. We just have to consistently believe that’s what’s going to get it done on our team. When we try to do things that are too cute and when we don’t manage the puck properly and make it a short track, that’s when we get into trouble.”
This game was full of ebbs and flows with both teams having lots of open ice to work with in the opposing zone. The Isles took a 1-0 lead on Josh Bailey’s first goal of the year, set up by a great pass by Okposo.
Bailey was glad to get the monkey off his back. “Obviously it feels nice to get on the score sheet and contribute,” Bailey said. “It was a heck of a play by Okie. I was trying to not let myself get too frustrated. When the chances are there you’ve just got to stick with it and continue working on your shot, whether it’s in practice or just getting pucks to the net in games. Eventually it will go in.”
The Leafs tied it five minutes later on Kadri’s first goal of the night and the game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Toronto outplayed the Islanders in the second period and some sloppy goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov and some poor line changes and defense by the Isles left the team in a 4-2 hole after 4o minutes despite Lubomir Visnovsky’s first goal as an Islander that briefly put the home team up 2-1.
But Toronto also played sloppy defense and instead of tightening up their play to protect their two-goal lead, they continued to play wide open hockey and it cost them. First Andrew MacDonald scored on a high shot from the point 5:31 into the third period and then Okposo scored on a partial breakaway at the 10:08 mark to tie the game at 4-4.
The Isles had a chance to win in overtime but Michael Grabner’s shot hit the post. Phaneuf ended the game with a goal just 1:11 into the extra session.
The Islanders continue their home stand Sunday when they host the Ottawa Senators at 3:00 PM. Islanders tickets for this and other games are available.
Michael Grabner was awarded a penalty shot late in the first period but shot the puck high over the cross bar. The penalty shot was the only infraction of the game and neither team was awarded a power play.
The hat trick by Kadri was the first for a Toronto player at the Nassau Coliseum since Paul Henderson did it on February 20, 1974.