The Islanders unleashed a season-high 48 shots on Sunday, but a red-hot Ryan Miller was the difference in net for Vancouver, leading the Canucks to a 2-1 shootout win at Barclays Center.
The Islanders were on the verge of being shut out, but Ryan Strome came through in the clutch, cracking Miller’s code with 50.8 seconds to play in regulation. Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares were all denied in the shootout, while Radim Vrbata scored the only goal.
Strome’s goal came on the Islanders’ 45th shot, his wrist shot from the top of the circle sniping the top corner, bypassing Anders Lee’s screen along the way. It was the breakthrough the Islanders had been looking for all game, as they had the better of the five-on-five play and out-chanced the Canucks from the opening puck drop. Tavares rung a puck off the crossbar on the Islanders’ first shot and had a handful of other quality scoring chances. The Islanders’ captain had the Canucks’ goaltender sprawled out in his crease in the second period, but Tavares couldn’t raise the puck over Miller’s pad.
“I give Ryan Miller credit, he stood tall here tonight,” head coach Jack Capuano said.
Brock Nelson had another of the Islanders’ top chances, stuffing the puck across the line in a scramble, but only after the officials had blown the play dead. Okposo had a point-blank chance off a Canucks’ turnover in the third period, but was also denied by Miller. In the third period, the Islanders outshot the Canucks 22-4.
“It’s a little disheartening, but we just have to keep going,” Okposo said. “Five points out of six [this week]. We came from behind in a couple of them. We can’t be too upset, obviously we would like to get that second one tonight, but we can hang our hats on that. WE played pretty well.”
Despite seeing less action than Miller, Jaroslav Halak was sharp for the Islanders on Sunday. The Islanders’ goalie made key saves throughout the game, including a pair of glove saves in the second period, first on Daniel Sedin’s backhander in tight, later on a Sven Baertschi one-timer. Halak also denied Jared McCann on a breakaway in the third and stopped five shots in overtime.
The only shot to elude Halak was Ben Hutton’s first-career goal at 9:46 of the second period. Jannik Hansen swung and missed a one-timer from Daniel Sedin, which froze Halak long enough for him to not be able to get set for Hutton’s drive.
Sunday’s game had some bite to it, triggered by a Mikhail Grabovski boarding major on Henrik Sedin in the first period. Grabovski was given a game misconduct, but the bad feelings lingered, as Derek Dorsett blindsided Tavares on a faceoff with a shoulder to the head in the second period.
The shootout loss caps off a three-game homestand for the Islanders, who are off until Friday, when they visit the Ottawa Senators.
NOTES: Adam Pelech (upper body) was a late scratch and is considered day-to-day for the Islanders. Scott Mayfield took Pelech’s place in the lineup.
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