For the second time in three games at Nassau Coliseum on this young season, the New York Islanders let a late third period lead slip away. This is a situation that the Islanders have struggled with quite a bit over the past few seasons, so this is nothing really new to Islanders fans. This most recent loss stings just a bit. Why? Well the fact that it was in a shootout isn’t much of a problem. The reason this loss stings a little bit is because it was to the worst team in the NHL, in this early season, the Buffalo Sabres.
Coming into the game last night, the Sabres hadn’t picked up a win all year. The Islanders held a 3-2 lead in the game with about just over two minutes left in regulation. Then Marcus Foligno pounced on a loose puck and scored to tie the game for Buffalo. Nobody scored in overtime, so the teams went to a shootout, the second played at the Coliseum in three games. Matt Moulson scored the lone Islanders goal, while Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis got the two for Buffalo, giving the Sabres their first win of the year.
Yes the Islanders were able to get a point from the game, but they should have been able to get the second point and not let it slip away. The Islanders played with more jump and fire last night than they did the two road games played over the weekend. They also fired more pucks on goalie Ryan Miller. The Islanders fired 32 shots on net, a vast improvement from over the weekend. They even found offensive production from Frans Neilsen, Matt Martin and Moulson, who provided the Islanders scoring for the night.
The Islanders outplayed Buffalo most of the night, but it wasn’t enough to be able to seal the game. The Islanders seemed to take their foot off the gas pedal after Moulson gave them the lead. It didn’t look like the team played a full 60 minute hockey game. John Tavares put it best after the loss.
“When we have the lead, we have to bear down and get the job done,” said Tavares. “We haven’t sealed the door on teams when we’ve had the chance.”
Could not have said that any better.
I can understand that happening. Some nights teams have an off night, it does happen. There’s no way a team can win every night; they do have some nights where they don’t put out a full effort. In the Islanders’ case, it’s happened a bit too often. I know it’s early in the season still, which gives me a little hope that the Islanders can get these kinds of games out of the way early in the year instead of late when games seem to possibly mean more.
If the Islanders really want to get back into the playoffs again, which I still think they have a great chance of doing this year, games like this can’t happen much more the rest of the way. The Islanders can’t let off the gas pedal during games, and if they do they won’t be able to hold leads.