The Upshot: The NY Islanders Wake Up a Little Too Late in 4-2 Loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders / Al Bello/GettyImages
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HOW IT HAPPENED

The curse of the third jerseys continues as the NY Islanders played one of the most lackluster and heartless games of the season. Afternoon games can be a difficult time for many players, adjusting their pre-game rituals and naps and the later start, but still, not a night game can throw a lot of people off. It seems like every Islander struggled to wake up this morning and it was obvious on the ice. The Tampa Bay Lightning, while not their fastest game, were outplaying and skating the Isles all through the first period. Five minutes into the first, Tampa opened the scoring with a tap-in goal by Nick Paul. Bo Horvat wasted no time, with a Mat Barzal pass bouncing off him and in, but the goal was called back for offsides. The Isles seemed to lose all momentum from that point, with Nikita Kucherov finding open ice and giving Tampa a 2-0 lead. Kucherov's goal seemed to be tipped off Brayden Point, but it was Adam Pelech. Heading into the second period, the Islanders continued their heartless play, never able to gain any momentum. Despite a few good power plays and prolonged zone time, they just couldn't get one past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Point scored for a 3-0 lead on the powerplay, and the Islanders were graciously "booed" off the ice to finish the second period.

The Islanders gave themselves a bit of life with 6 minutes remaining. After going on the man advantage thanks to a tripping call on old friend Calvin De Haan, Ilya Sorokin was pulled for an extra skater, and Anders Lee remembered how to score as the man advantage ended, tipping home a pass by Barzal. Brock Nelson injected some life into UBS Arena, again scoring on the man advantage with Sorokin on the bench. Despite their best effort, Luke Glendening scored top shelf on the empty net with seconds remaining for a 4-2 victory.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

After a tired and ruthless first two periods, the team seemed to find their legs in the third period. The Islanders know better than anyone that you need to play a whole 60 minutes, even if their energy shot in during the end of the third.

Alexander Romanov was no doubt the Islanders' best player tonight. Unlike his teammates, he came out to play with energy and jump. He threw big hits and protected his goalie (and best friend) when necessary. His hits were timely, and he was great defensively. His skating was years ahead of any of his teammates tonight, and especially during the first period, he shined when no one else did. Barzal did much of the same, playing an okay first period but keeping the Islanders in it during the second and especially during the third.

WHAT WENT WRONG

When coming into the locker room, Patrick Roy was nervous to shake the status quo, letting the Islanders play how they know while implementing just a little of his coaching style into the team. After watching this game, and the past few as well, it's time to shake things up. The Islanders never gained any momentum on Tampa, giving dangerous players like Point and Kucherov way too much ice and space. The Islanders played distracted, with every whistle, turnover, or penalty taking all of the wind out from under them. There was little to no structure in the defensive zone, leading to turnovers and shots that never should have gotten to Sorokin. They can't keep playing for 40 minutes of a game, and in this game, really only the last five minutes. Despite the failed comeback, the first two periods were frankly embarrassing.

STATS OF THE GAME

Per Rob Taub, this is the 14th time in 57 games that the Islanders have allowed 2 or more goals in less than five minutes.

With his primary assist on Lee's third period goal, Mat Barzal officially has 300 career NHL assists.

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

Curse of the afternoon game or curse of the third jersey?

WHAT'S NEXT?

The Islanders will take on the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Monday. Puckdrop is at 8pm EST on NHLN or MSGSN.