It hasn't even been 24 hours since the NY Islanders blew a 4-1 third period league to the San Jose Sharks, and fans calling for blood. The Isles hit the ice today for practice, with Lane Lambert still behind the bench and all able bodies accounted for, including Sebastian Aho, who's been skating since hitting the IR.
Bo Horvat, who's totaled six points in his last four games, including two assists last night, was very vocal and candid regarding the Isles' third-period struggles.
“It's always in the back of your mind, maybe a little bit," said Horvat. "It's sad to say, and it's happened so many times this year where it's hard not to think about when you're going out there again, that it's gonna happen again.”
It's happened again and again and again. Horvat has been one of the Isles' top players all season, building deadly chemistry with Mat Barzal, as both have been picking up the pace over the last six games. It's difficult to fault Horvat for anything, however - per Stefan Rosner of The Hockey News, Horvat has been on the ice for four game-tying goals against in the third period - most of any Islanders forward.
A team that has been so successful in closing out games in years past has been thrown right out of the window, as it feels like not if but when they'll blow another lead.
"It's just obviously unacceptable by us and a team like this...this is our identity to be able to close out games, and right now, we're not doing that," said Horvat. It's just unacceptable by us on the ice."
While Horvat has received (deservingly) no criticism, Head Coach Lane Lambert has been at the brunt of the fan's frustration. His tone has changed a bit from saying it wasn't a trend a few weeks ago, as it has become precisely that.
The Isles played a terrific game for nearly 52 minutes last night, but that's not what anyone will remember on the night.
"You have to be very, very careful of the negatives outweighing the positives here," said Lambert. "We've had points in nine out of 10 games, and I get it... It's skewed because of the overtime and shootout losses. But you've got to be very, very careful with the negativity outweighing the positives, and there's a lot of positives."
The Isles currently sit fourth in the Metro Division and in the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. Despite all the third-period collapses, they sit just two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for second place in the division. The team is not far from where they need to be, but the third-period woes need to be solved.