The New York Islanders were shut out for the second time this season, as they fell 3-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Toronto backup Michael Hutchinson made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season, while Pierre Engvall's second-period goal held up as the game winner. Auston Matthews' 28th goal of the season and Zach Hyman's empty-netter rounded out the scoresheet for the Leafs, who improved to 9-0-1 in their last 10 games.
With the loss, the Isles have now dropped two straight games and are 2-4-1 in their last seven contests.
"It was frustrating, but we did do a lot of good things," Johnny Boychuk said. "We did hit some posts tonight and we had a lot of good chances. We just have to capitalize on them and probably end up with a win."
Video: Condensed Game: Islanders @ Maple Leafs
Saturday night's scoreline betrayed what was a solid effort by Barry Trotz's club. The Isles outshot the high-flying Maple Leafs 33-23 - not including a pair of chances off the post - creating a bevy of offensive chances, while limiting Toronto's potent attack. Saturday marked the first time in 10 games the Maple Leafs were held to under four goals, with only two finding their way past Semyon Varlamov (20 saves).
But on a night where Trotz was satisfied with his team's structure and effort, the Isles couldn't get the offense to match. Hutchinson stymied the Isles from start to finish, flashing the glove on Josh Bailey on a first period two-on-one, or sprawling out to rob Anders Lee on a rebound in tight to start the third period. Boychuk rung a shot off the iron, while Tom Kuhnhackl couldn't get a handle on a loose puck in the crease. When it was all said and done, the Isles rued the many close calls.
"From our standpoint our defensive game was pretty solid against a pretty dangerous Toronto team," Trotz said. "We didn't bury our chances and don't get a victory, but I'll take that game almost every night."
Video: TOR 3 vs NYI 0: Barry Trotz
With one goal over their past two games, Trotz said the Isles just need to stick with the process and trust that the offense will come.
"It's like anything in life. You put a lot of effort into something and maybe you don't get rewarded the first time, but the whole thing is to stay with it and you'll get rewarded," Trotz said. "That's life. It'll turn and I thought we played a pretty solid game. Structurally we were real solid and we were able to generate a lot of chances, we just weren't able to find the back of the net."
As for the Leafs, the decisive stretch came just over halfway through the second period, as Engvall and Matthews scored on consecutive shots. Engvall finished a cross-ice feed from Kasperi Kapanen at 13:25, while Matthews scored off a spinning deflection at 16:07.
ISLES SWITCH UP LINES:
The Islanders changed up their lines for Saturday's contest.
Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey flanked Mathew Barzal on the top line, while Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle played alongside Brock Nelson. Derick Brassard moved back to center between Tom Kuhnhackl and Michael Dal Colle, who drew into the lineup for Ross Johnston.
The Isles also switched up defensive pairs with Adam Pelech missing his second straight game. Ryan Pulock played with Nick Leddy, while Noah Dobson skated with Boychuk, albeit with some mixing and matching. Leddy (23:34), Pulock (23:00) and Devon Toews (23:41) all logged over 23 minutes.
BOYCHUK PLAYS 700TH GAME:
Saturday marked Johnny Boychuk's 700th career NHL game, including 379 with the Islanders. The 35-year-old defenseman has 205 career points (54G, 151A).
The Islanders are back in action on Monday night when they take on the Colorado Avalanche at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.