The New York Islanders’ 10-game point streak came to an end Tuesday.
The Islanders lost 5-1 to the Florida Panthers, who rode a 33-save start from Roberto Luongo and a three-point night from Aleksander Barkov to the win. Afterwards, there was no panic from the Islanders, but definitely disappointment.
“It’s not the way you expect the streak to end,” Frans Nielsen said. “Losing stinks, always does. We can’t be happy just because we had 10 in a row with points, we have high expectations of ourselves every night.”
Early on, the Islanders looked destined to extend their streak to 11 games. The Islanders outshot the Panthers 19-2, but Luongo stopped everything he saw, preventing the Islanders from opening up what could have been a multi-goal lead.
“I thought we played as good a first period as we could have played,” Travis Hamonic said. “Luongo stood on his head.”
If frustration hadn’t set in after 20 minutes, it may have when the Panthers opened the scoring early in the second period. While the Islanders were denied on AAA scoring chances, the Panthers scored on a broken play. The Islanders couldn’t clear the zone in a scramble in front of the net and Jaroslav Halak couldn’t reset himself by the time Reilly Smith let a one-timer go from the right circle.
Barkov made it 2-0 five minutes later, taking an Islanders turnover in the slot, cutting across the net and backhanding it past Halak at 7:25. The Islanders had a 22-6 shot advantage, but trailed 2-0.
Jack Capuano shuffled his lines to spark the Islanders offense and it worked, as Brock Nelson – playing with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin – cracked Luongo’s code, deflecting a Marek Zidlicky pass in at 12:37.
The momentum was short-lived, as Aaron Ekblad re-established the two-goal lead 20 seconds later, beating Halak five-hole.
“We tried to change the lines and get some momentum,” Capuano said. “As soon as we changed the lines – two or three shifts later – we get the goal. We gave up that third right back, which hurt us.”
Vincent Trocheck put the Panthers ahead 4-1 early in the third period, beating Halak over the shoulder with a one-timer. Trocheck dealt the Islanders comeback bid a serious blow, but Jonathan Huberdeau’s empty-netter with 3:43 to play effectively iced the contest.
Hamonic said despite the ugly result on the scoreboard, there’s no reason to panic.
“This is as good of a roll that we’ve been on in a long time. There’s no reason to freak out,” Hamonic said. “We’ve played some really good hockey as of late; tonight certainly wasn’t how we drew it up, but we move forward.”
The Islanders kick off a two-game road trip Thursday night in Colorado. Puck drop is at 9 p.m.