The Upshot: NY Islanders suffer stinging final seconds loss to Nashville Predators

After 50 minutes of a showdown between two of the most elite goaltenders in the world, the Islanders couldn't hold a late lead- yet again.
Jan 13, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) reacts
Jan 13, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) reacts / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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The NY Islanders lost a tough one Saturday night against the Nashville Predators. After a two-and-a-half period goaltenders duel, the Isles took a 1-0 lead, only to relinquish the lead almost immediately. And then, as fate would have it, a crazy last-minute sequence caused the Islanders to leave Music City pointless. In a season full of third-period collapses, this one might take the cake.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Islanders, coming into this game on a 9-game losing streak against the Predators, came out strong, outshooting the Preds 10-7 in the first period and 8-6 in the second period. Ilya Sorokin and Juuse Saros were locked in, with neither team able to break through. The Isles had two power plays in the second, and were unable to convert on either. After the first twelve minutes of the third period went largely the same way, the Islanders finally got on the board. JG Pageau deflected a Noah Dobson shot into the net for a 1-0 Isles lead.

Of course, a 1-0 lead with eight minutes to go in regulation for the Islanders is never safe, the the Predators took advantage accordingly. After a Kyle Palmieri tripping penalty sent the Isles to the penalty kill, Luke Evangalista tied up the game with his 8th goal of the season. As the third period wound down, it appeared the teams were headed to overtime. But Lane Lambert made a bad judgment call putting the fourth line and Scott Mayfield on the ice in the final minute.

Matt Martin made a "cardinal sin," as Lane Lambert angrily put it after the game, by lazily and inexplicably passing the puck directly to Filip Forsberg instead of simply clearing it and getting the game to overtime. With 14 seconds left, Martin could have literally just pushed the puck up the boards and out, and the Isles would have received a point. Instead, Forsberg circled around the net and found Jeremy Lauzon, who fed Alexandre Carrier for the shot. Carrier's shot proceeded to hit Mayfield's stick and fly over Sorokin's shoulder and into the back of the net- an almost unbelievable turn of events. A buzzer-beating empty netter would be all she wrote for the Islanders.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Ilya Sorokin was terrific in this one. Sorokin and Saros were the stars of the first 50 minutes of the game, as neither let anything past them until those last 8 minutes. Noah Dobson had another assist, and Oliver Wahlstrom had his best period of the season in the first but then didn't play much later in the game. The defense overall had a solid night, and Adam Pelech is clearly getting more comfortable with each game.

The Isles are 7 for 8 killing penalties (the Preds' power-play goal broke their 7-PK streak) since Adam Pelech returned to the lineup. If Pelech's return can improve the PK for the rest of the season, that would be a huge boon for the Isles.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Matt Martin's giveaway is inexplicable. All he had to do was push the puck up the boards and out of the zone, and the Isles were headed to overtime. Instead, they leave town with yet another squandered point this season. This loss- along with the loss earlier in the season to the San Jose Sharks- will stand out this spring if the Islanders miss the playoffs by any small amount.

The Islanders also continue to take bad penalties. Kyle Palmieri's tripping penalty late in the third gave the Predators life, and allowed them to tie the game. And of course, the Islanders cannot continue to have problems in the third period, lest these collapses become fatal to the team's postseason chances this season.

STATS OF THE GAME

- Tonight was Brock Nelson's 800th career NHL game. Brock is the 7th Islander to reach 800 games in the uniform.

- Noah Dobson is the second Islanders defenseman after Denis Potvin to have 41 assists in 41 games. Potvin did it seven times.

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

For any fans that remember the 2002 playoff series between the Isles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, you will surely remember Steve Webb. It's great to see Webb spending time with the fans!

WHAT'S NEXT

The Islanders head to the Twin Cities to face the Minnesota Wild on Monday for an MLK Day early evening game. Puck drop is at 6:00 ET.