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Islanders: Three Takeaways from Thursday Shootout Loss to Capitals

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders makes a save against Conor Sheary #73 of the Washington Capitals during their game at Nassau Coliseum on April 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders makes a save against Conor Sheary #73 of the Washington Capitals during their game at Nassau Coliseum on April 06, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders
Cal Clutterbuck #15 and Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders came up empty after a very strong first period, and just couldn’t get back on track thereafter as they fell to the Capitals 1-0 on Thursday.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The New York Islanders had a great first period followed by a bad second and third. After a dominant 60-minute effort against the Rangers earlier this week, the Isles fell back into bad old habits on Thursday, as they essentially flamed out in the final two frames against Washington and wound up the losers in the shootout.

Here are three takeaways from the loss.

1.Breaking the Islanders Periods Down By the Numbers

The New York Islanders came out flying on Thursday night. Early on they were pushing the Capitals to their limits and testing Ilya Samsonov regularly. Though failing to find twine on their scoring chances, the first period presented us with the best 5v5 performance the Islanders would muster on Thursday.

The Isles totaled 21 5v5 shot attempts in that opening frame, with 17 of those attempts going unblocked, and 15 of them finding their way on goal. The first period scoring chances were a lopsided 13-4 in favor of New York, and they logged two high danger chances to the Capitals’ zero, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The expected goals (xG) share was dominated by the Islanders in the first. They took home 87.1% of the 5v5 xG in that opening 20 minutes with a very good .88 mark in the category.

Unfortunately, it was pretty much all downhill from there. The second period saw the Capitals more than double their total shot attempts, and triple their unblocked attempts and scoring chances. Victims of their own poor puck management, the Islanders failed to keep pace numerically for the remainder of regulation.

In spite of the poor period, the Islanders still managed to maintain an xGF edge after 40 minutes, as their 1.12 xGF beat out the Caps’ .78. But the reality of those xG numbers is that the Isles only maintained a lead there because of their dominant first. Washington rallied to close the gap considerably after the second, and would continue doing so in the third.

The third was similarly bad for the Islanders. They notched only four total shot attempts, all unblocked, and only a lonely one shot made it on goal at 5v5 for the entire final 20 minutes. The Isles did have two power-plays in the period, but they failed to make any significant inroads toward a goal off of the opportunities.

Overtime was agonizingly low event. The Islanders controlled the run of play, and possessed the puck for greater than four minutes, but they failed to ever realize a dangerous scoring chance.

The second period slump has been an unsolved quandary all season for the Islanders. They looked magisterial in the first 20 minutes, and had they carried even half that effort over to the remaining two periods they would’ve likely found a way to win this game.

But that didn’t happen. The shootout ensued, and the Islanders lost what essentially boils down to a coin flip to decide regular season games that should really just end in ties.

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