New York Islanders Inability to Hold Leads Damned 2017-18 Season
By Billy Lewis
The New York Islanders has hit their biggest rut at the worst possible time of the year. They are winless in their last seven games going 0-4-3. Even more maddening is the fact that they have held the lead in a majority of those seven games.
The New York Islanders entered February 19th one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Isles were coming off back to back shutouts and were facing the Minnesota Wild in a President’s Day matinee. Despite grabbing an early second period the Islanders fell to the Wild 5-3. Since President’s Day, one can say the wheels have completely come off.
The Beginning of the Streak
The Islanders are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak but could just as easily be in a stretch where they could have won five or six of those games.
The Wild game saw the beginning of a nasty trend. Anders Lee scored 1:57 into the second period. The Wild responded with three unanswered goals and beat the Isles 5-3. The Islanders then went to visit the Maple Leafs. Fans knew that would be a tough game going in and thanks to goals by Ryan Pulock and Mathew Barzal the Islanders were up 2-0 just 11:45 into the game.
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They still held a 2-1 advantage going into the 3rd. Morgan Rielly tied the game just under a minute and a half into the third, but the Isles regained the lead when Jordan Eberle scored about a 1:40 after Rielly. Eventually, Auston Matthews would tie the game and the Islanders would go on to lose in a shootout.
Crucial Stretch of Games
The Devils game saw the same theme. The Islanders used another Eberle goal to gain a 1-0 lead early in the second period. The Isles would blow another lead as the Devils scored the next two goals and beat the Islanders 2-1.
The New York Islanders ended February in Montreal. Barzal continued his stellar rookie campaign and put the Isles up 1-0 early. You had to figure that the Isles could take care of a struggling Montreal team and get a much-needed win. Wrong. The Islanders didn’t score again and lost 3-1.
In fact, the only game in this stretch the Islanders didn’t have the lead was the next game against the Canadiens. The Isles hosted the Canadiens to begin March and managed to tie the game three separate times. Thus began the biggest third period of the year with the Isles and Canadiens tied 3-3. Instead of stepping up, the Islanders gave up three unanswered goals and lost 6-3.
New York visited Pittsburgh on the second half of a back to back. Brandon Davidson got the Islanders on the board first just 1:11 into the game! The Pens would tie the game, and then Anders Lee gave the Isles a third-period lead. Of course, the lead wouldn’t hold and the Islanders lost 3-2 in overtime.
West Coast Swing
Finally, in the most recent game of this horrid stretch, the Islanders were in Vancouver. Early on the Islanders were dominating the game. Josh Bailey scored in the first and John Tavares scored 2:59 into the second. Through 23 minutes the Islanders had a 2-0 lead and looked to be well in control of the game.
Instead, the lowly Canucks scored the next three goals, and the Islanders needed an Eberle goal with the goalie was pulled to tie the game. Again they would lose in overtime and here we are.
Next: Islanders Defensive issues are Personnel Related
With a chance to make a playoff push the Islanders have held the lead in six of seven games. The only game they didn’t have the lead they entered the third period tied 3-3 at home! For fans, coaches, and players alike it has been a frustrating seven games. Unfortunately for the Isles faithful, it also appears to be the seven games that put the nail in the coffin of the Islanders 2017-2018 season.