The New York Islanders' winless streak reached four games, as they fell 6-2 to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.
Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock scored a pair of late goals for the Islanders, but it was not enough to overcome a 4-0 Canadiens lead through 40 minutes. The loss dropped the Islanders to 0-2-2 in their last four contests and while that didn't cost the Islanders their position as the Eastern Conference's first wild card, there was palpable frustration postgame.
"It's frustrating. It's unacceptable," Pulock said. "This time of year these points are so important. There's winning and losing, but it's more frustrating when you don't bring an effort. We just didn't have that tonight. We weren't ourselves."
Video: NYI Recap: Nelson, Pulock score in 6-2 defeat
ISLES DIG EARLY HOLE:
After a 4-0 loss to Boston on Saturday and a pointed practice on Monday, Head Coach Barry Trotz said he expected a better start out of the Islanders on Tuesday.
So it was much to Trotz' chagrin as he saw his team trail 3-0 in the first period, as Montreal netted three goals in a 5:03 span.
"We need to raise our battle level a little bit," Trotz said. "That first period was really important and we failed. We dug ourselves a tremendous hole. We have to put more skin in the game, we don't have enough skin in the game and you can't win at this time of year unless you're putting more skin in the game to earn points. We got exactly what we deserved today."
Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring at 13:31, tipping a Ben Chiarot shot past Thomas Greiss. Phillip Danault set a screen in front of Greiss on the Canadiens second goal, allowing defenseman Jeff Petry to thread a point shot through at 15:43.
Charles Hudon, on emergency recall from AHL Laval, made it 3-0, taking advantage of a turnover at the Isles blue line. Hudon intercepted a Devon Toews pass before skating into the slot and roofing a shot high past Greiss at 18:34.
Video: MTL 6 vs NYI 2: Barry Trotz
Hudon's goal effectively ended Greiss' night, as Semyon Varlamov replaced the Islanders' starter in the second period. Tuesday marked the second time in three games Greiss was pulled, as he allowed three goals on 12 shots, though Trotz said the Isles didn't do much to help out their goaltender and that the goalie change was more of a spark than an indictment.
The goalie change didn't turn the momentum for the Isles, who had trouble generating offense in the second period. That was especially pronounced on a second period power play, where the Isles allowed a shorthanded goal to Paul Byron to make it 4-0. The play started with another turnover at the Isles blue line, leading to a partial breakaway for Byron who backhanded the shorthanded goal past Varlamov at 12:35.
"The guys were trying, but the puck was a grenade on their stick," Trotz said. "We were still sort of in it, not great, but the fourth goal - the shorthanded goal - was the nail in the coffin."
Video: MTL@NYI: Nelson scores on wide-open net
ISLES SNAP GOAL DROUGHT IN THIRD PERIOD:
The Islanders didn't quit heading into the third, looking to make an early push and at least generate some momentum heading into Thursday's game - and the stretch drive ahead.
They thought they'd caught a break to start the third period, as an Andy Greene shot deflected off Anders Lee's foot and in 12 seconds into the frame. But on a night where the Isles couldn't catch a break, the goal was called back due to a kicking motion.
"There's a lot of things that aren't going well," Lee said. "We're gripping it tight because we want it to happen. Little mistakes are turning into big mistakes. It's just snowballing a little bit on us right now."
Nelson eventually scored one that counted at 6:14 of the third period, as Josh Bailey forced a Carey Price turnover behind the net before feeding Nelson for an easy tap-in. The goal was Nelson's 24th of the season and snapped the Isles' goalless streak at 154:03, dating back to Thursday night in St. Louis.
That was as close as the Isles came. Jordan Weal made it 5-1 at 15:28 with a high shot past Varlamov, while Pulock beat Price with a wrister from the point on a five-on-three with 3:39 to play. Joel Armia rounded out the scoresheet with a long-range, shorthanded empty-netter.
Video: MTL@NYI: Pulock buries PPG on two-man advantage
BOYCHUK LEAVES GAME AFTER TAKING SKATE TO FACE:
While the final score stung, the Islanders' main concern after the game was the well-being of Johnny Boychuk, who left the game in the third period after taking Artturi Lehkonen's skate blade to the face.
It was a scary scene, as Lehkonen's skate kicked up and nicked Boychuk, who immediately got off the ice and went to the locker room clutching his face. Trotz did not have an immediate update after the game.
"It's scary, obviously it's around the facial eye area," Trotz said. "He's being evaluated."
Pageau returns to Ottawa for the first time since being dealt at the trade deadline, as the Isles take on the Senators on Thursday night. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.