After suffering a painful loss with 7 seconds remaining in the game to lose to the Nashville Predators on Saturday, many thought the NY Islanders would come into tonight's game with a fire under their butts. Instead of playing with determination and grit to prove that they're a good, strong team, they played tired and sloppy all game. The Minnesota Wild walked all over the Isles tonight; they had no jump to their game and played like it was meaningless.
HOW IT HAPPENED
In pure islanders fashion, Anders Lee took a penalty for slashing against goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, despite the fact that Fleury went after Lee for poking at a loose puck. The Islanders couldn't get the puck out of their zone and turned the puck over to Mat Zuccarello, who capitalized on the error and scored just two minutes into the first period for a power play goal. Connor Dewar scored his 7th of the season, and Joel Eriksson Ek scored on the power play for the 3-0 lead.
The Islanders played a much stronger third period compared to the first two after Ken Appleby relieved Ilya Sorokin. But nothing good ever lasts. Despite getting a 4-minute power play in the third period, a Lee hooking penalty negated the first two minutes of the penalty. Eriksson Ek scored his second of the game short-handed. Marcus Foligno scored with a minute remaining to ice the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
There isn't much to say about what went right for the Islanders tonight. I could talk about how when Appleby came into the game to relieve Sorokin, the rest of the team seemed to wake up a little bit and play slightly better than whatever they were doing before. I think Cal Clutterbuck said it best in his post game interview "we were f*cking bad." Theres no other way to put it.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Where can you even start with this game? It seems like every week, there's a game where fans question how Lane Lambert still has a job. Its hard to believe this is the same coach who learned from Barry Trotz for so many years, this season has seen at least nine games that any other coach in the NHL would have gotten fired for, yet it hasn't happened yet.
If we're going to discuss what went wrong, we need to start by looking at the lineup. Earlier this season, Lambert benched Pierre Engvall for a game due to sloppy play and turnovers in a few games prior. That's great; players need to learn from their mistakes and be taken out of the lineup if needed. But this needs to be seen for everyone, from rookies to veterans. Why would Lambert play Matt Martin after the "cardinal sin" turnover he had against the Predators?
The Islanders had no jump and no passion and were outshot 20-3 in the second period, unarguably their worst period of the entire season. Per Arthur Staple, this is the 24th time this season (of 31 apperances) that Sorokin faced at least 30 shots. With 10 shots in the first, the Wild reached this benchmark within the first 40 minutes of play. This team can't stop taking penalties at the worst times possible. Kyle Palmieri and Lee each took two penalties, Lee's second coming just 7 seconds after Kirill Kaprizov's 4-minute major started.
“I didn't like our effort at all,” Lambert said in the post-game. “I didn't think we were 100% committed to playing the game the right way right from the start, and it just kind of snowballed as we went along.” The fans deserve more. We saw that they weren't playing 100%, that they were outplayed and outworked on all ends of the ice, but fans need to hear why.
STATS OF THE GAME
- With his 552nd win tonight, Marc-Andre Fleury has passed Patrick Roy for sole possession of second place on the NHL's all-time wins list.
- Anders Lee's second penalty marked the 14th time this season that the Islanders have negated their own penalty.
- Per the broadcast on MSGSN, the Islanders have allowed 36 PPGs through 43 games this season. Last season the Islanders allowed 39 PPGs through 81 games.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
The Islanders have no time to rest as they take on the Jets tomorrow in Winnipeg. Puck drop at Canada Life Center is at 8 pm EST and can be caught on MSGSN.