The New York Islanders played better hockey Saturday night but still fell to the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout at Barclays Center. Mark Letestu scored the only goal in the shootout to clinch the win for the Oilers. Nick Leddy, Shane Prince and Casey Cizikas scored for the Islanders who picked up a point in their second straight shootout loss.
“We’ve just go to keep working and find a way to break through,” Tavares said. “We played with some good energy. I don’t think we gave them a whole lot. We had some tough breaks on their goals. The game got a little bit sloppy towards the end, but we had our chances.”
The Islanders came storming out of the gate and scored just 13 seconds into the contest. The newly created line John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck and Josh Bailey connected early with Clutterbuck’s perfect pass finding Leddy trailing the play. Leddy beat Oilers netminder Cam Talbot and the Isles had a quick 1-0 lead.
Leddy’s goal made this the eighth consecutive game an Islanders defenseman had scored, a new franchise record. The Islanders lead the NHL with 12 tallies by their defense corps.
Shane Prince made it 2-0 Isles at 5:49 of the opening period when the puck bounced off the skate of an Edmonton defenseman and right to Prince in the deep slot. Prince buried the chance at the Isles were up by two goals early.
The Islanders were outshooting the Oilers 7-1 after 7:00 of play and controlling the tempo of the game. The team has struggled to score and put consistent pressure on opposing teams of late, but early in the game they played with intensity and desperation.
Slowly, however, the Oilers managed to get back into the hockey game. First Patrick Maroon deflected a shot by Matthew Benning from the right point that beat Isles goalie Jaroslav Halak up high. That cut the Isles lead to 2-1 at 8:22.
Then, the Edmonton special teams took over. Leon Draisaitl scored on a power play at 12:13 and the game was all even at 2-2. That remained the score after 20 minutes. After the Isles took seven of the first eight shots on goal in the game, Edmonton finished the period by taking six of the last eight.
The Islanders also lost defenseman Travis Hamonic to an undisclosed injury in the first period. Hamonic played 6:10 in the opening stanza but did not return to the game. The Islanders announced he would be re-evaluated by the team doctors Sunday. The team played the rest of the contest with just five defensemen.
The Isles controlled the pace for much of the second period and regained the lead when Cizikas tapped home the rebound of a Shane Prince shot to give the home team a 3-2 edge.
The Oilers power play evened things up with 3:10 left in the second period when Milan Lucic put home the rebound of a Jordan Eberle shot to make the score 3-3.
Both teams had some quality chances in the third period and again in overtime when Tavares nearly ended it on a breakaway. In the end, however, it was another shootout and another loss for the Isles in the skills competition. The Islanders picked up a point but felt they deserved a better fate.
“I think we possessed the puck and I think our defense played terrific on the back end,” head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “At the end of the day, we competed. We played a little resilient and played hard and that’s a credit to the guys. If we play like that and work like that and just stay the course, good things will happen.”
The Islanders return to action on Monday night when they close out this five-game home stand against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Islanders are now 15-1-3 all-time against Western Conference teams since moving to Barclays Center.
Tavares and Seidenberg extended their point streaks to four games.
Official attendance was 13,862.