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Islanders vs. Lightning: Isles drop points with a half effort

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 17: Barry Trotz, the head coach of the New York Islanders handles the bench against the Nashville Predators at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on December 17, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Predators defeated the Islanders 8-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 17: Barry Trotz, the head coach of the New York Islanders handles the bench against the Nashville Predators at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on December 17, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Predators defeated the Islanders 8-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The five-game point streak is over as the New York Islanders fall 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning who are once again cruising through the NHL.

With a 3-1 loss, the New York Islanders five-game point streak comes to an end in Florida against a red hot Tampa Bay Lightning team. The Bolts are 8-1-1 over their last ten with six wins in row after tonight’s two points. The hyper-talented Tampa squad is firing on all cylinders.

With the loss, the Isles cushion in the first wildcard spot in the East is at three points and only a single game in hand.

The half-effort they showed tonight has to be exercised from their play. On a more talented squad, this might work. But for a team that doesn’t have the same talent level as the big boys in the league, they need a full-60 every night.

First Period

When two of the top teams in the league face off there’s typically a ‘feeling out’ period. Over the first twenty minutes, both teams took no risks and just sized each other up.

And that’s essentially what we got for the first 20 minutes. It was a chess match between the Islanders and the Lightning. Neither gave an inch. Neither scored a goal.

Second Period

But less than a minute into the second period,

Brayden Point

goes down on a breakaway and powers a slapshot past

Semyon Varlamov

to break the deadlock.

It took a while for the Islanders to get up for the second period. But still barely generated anything that was dangerous.

The Islanders had a single high-danger chances-for and 0.46 xGF at 5on5 in the second period. The Islanders just didn’t do much to create offense. Meanwhile, Tampa gets on the board after a single slip up by the Isles.

Third Period

It didn’t get much better for the New York Islanders. Within seven minutes of the puck dropping on the third period, former Islanders prospect Carter Verhaeghe makes it 2-0. For some reason, the Islanders allowed Verhaeghe to just waltz his way into the slot and get a free chance on goal. Which he converted.

Clearly, Jordan Eberle mistook the white ice between Verhaeghe and Varlamov for an Islanders defender so he let the Tampa forward in on goal. There’s no other explanation for why Verhaeghe was allowed to get that effort on goal.

The Isles just didn’t look into tonight’s game. Which is a wild departure from what we’re used to seeing from them. Usually, the Islanders can’t get up for games against bottom-tier opponents, not top-tier teams like the Lightning.

They needed a lifeline. Something. Anything to get them back in the game. A good forecheck, a big save, a big hit, or maybe even a fight. Anything. Thankfully, the refs would give them one with a holding call against Nikita Kucherov.

They left it late, but

Derick Brassard

was able to get the Islanders on the board with a very

Anders Lee

like goal from right in front of

Andrei Vasilevskiy

‘s net.

The Isles kept pushing for an equalizer for the remainder of the period. Unfortunately, it was too-little-too-late. With an empty-net goal from Steven Stamkos, the Bolts took both points.

Why it took the Islanders so long to get “up” for this game is beyond words. With the way the Metro and even the rest of the Eastern Conference is shaping up, they need to continue picking up points.

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There was a real chance for the Islanders to pick up at least a point with a full effort. Too bad.

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