The New York Islanders 5-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was only too familiar to the team and their fans. For the third consecutive game, the Isles were tied after 40 minutes of play and for the third straight contest, they lost in the final 20 minutes. Once again, defensive breakdowns and poor play on special teams were the root causes of the defeat.

In this game, the Islanders held leads of 2-0 and 4-3 but were unable to find a way to earn the victory. This feeling of deja vu is clearly frustrating many of the players.

“The last three games we’ve been tied going into the third,” captain John Tavares said. “You’re not going to win some hockey games if  you don’t win some third periods. We’ve got to find a way to will ourselves to get the job done.”

The Islanders broke out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening 3:48 of the game on goals by Andrew Ladd and Casey Cizikas. A third tally was disallowed when the Isles were offside, but Chicago starter Scott Darling looked vulnerable and the Islanders clearly had the better of the play early.

But the home team’s momentum was derailed by a pair of foolish penalties in the first period that allowed the Blackhawks to get back into the game. First, Casey Cizikas responded to hard but clean check and was called for roughing. The Blackhawks produced some pinpoint cross-ice passes that set up Artemi Panarin for a one-timer that cut the Islanders lead to 2-1 at 9:47.

Chicago cashed in on Dennis Seidenberg’s tripping penalty later in the period and completed four consecutive cross-ice passes on the power play that gave Artem Anisimov an easy tap in at 13:03. Suddenly, an early two-goal lead was gone and the game was all tied at 2-2.

After Marian Hossa scored at even strength to give Chicago a 3-2 lead just 1:05 later, the Islanders woke up and tied the game on Ryan Strome’s shot from just inside the blue line that deflected off a defender’s stick and past Darling to tie the game at 3-3. It was the first goal in 20 games for Strome who last scored on October 21.

The two teams went into the dressing room tied 3-3 after a wild and wide-open first period in which the Blackhawks outshot the Isles 13-11.

The second period was the strongest for the Islanders and they regained the lead just 22 seconds in on Anders Lee’s shot from the deep slot. Lee now has 10 points in his last 11 games and is now tied for the team lead with nine goals.

The Isles outshot Chicago 14-7 in the second period, but Darling steadied himself and kept the home team off the scoreboard for the rest of the period.

The Blackhawks tied the game in the final minute of the second stanza on yet another power-play goal as Panarin netted his second tally of the game. His blast from the left circle got past Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss who did not let in any soft goals in this game. The Islanders penalty kill allowed three goals in three chances tonight and was a major reason the team failed to win the hockey game.

The third period started off with a more cautious pace, but as the period wore on, Chicago’s superior skills and puck possession wore the Islanders down. Richard Panik finally broke the tie when he scored from the slot with 6:13 left in regulation time. An Islanders turnover in their own zone set up the play with Dennis Rasmussen providing a pinpoint pass from behind the net to set up the winning goal.

The Islanders seemed tired late in the game and were unable to muster more than a handful of shots on Darling in the final minutes. The result was another painful loss for the Islanders.

“We have to find our game where we’re not tightening up,” Lee said. “We played some pretty good hockey against these guys but in the third period we tightened up and they took over.”

The Islanders have precious little time to think about tonight’s defeat as they head to Buffalo to face the Sabres Friday night. This will be the first time that Kyle Okposo will face the Islanders in a regular-season game. Faceoff is at 7:00 PM ET. J.F. Berube will get his first start in goal this season for the Isles.

 

NOTES:

Cal Clutterbuck played in his 600th career NHL game.

Calvin de Haan recorded four blocked shots and now leads the entire NHL with 82 for the season.

Official attendance was 12,504.

Andrew Ladd bounced back and led the team with six shots on goal after recording zero Tuesday night against Washington. He also scored and was a plus-one for the game.