The New York Islanders attempted a late rally on Saturday night, but couldn't complete the comeback, falling 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
Down 3-0 in the third period, Andrew Ladd and Anthony Beauvillier scored a pair of goals inside the final 11:02 to give the Islanders a chance, but to no avail. Nick Leddy came agonizingly close to tying it up, putting an open look off the post with 1:27 to play.
"Sometimes it's just a little puck luck here and there," Calvin de Haan said. "It's a strange game, things don't always go your way no matter how well you play."
Saturday was the Islanders' first regulation loss to the Devils since Mar. 1, 2014 (going 9-0-1 since) and the first goal they'd allowed to their Metro Division rivals in over two games (143:07). It was an inopportune time for the streaks to end, as the Devils gained ground on the Isles in the chase for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and now sit two points back with another showdown coming on Sunday in Brooklyn.
"It is what it is, we lost a game, we hit a post at the end and we had a chance to tie it," Interim Coach Doug Weight said. "We had some momentum and we have to carry it into tomorrow and we have to start better."
Video: NYI@NJD: Ladd beats Schneider through heavy traffic
The Islanders outshot the Devils 42-21 on Saturday night, but Weight said the Isles were lulled into their opponent's game early. De Haan said the Islanders didn't come out with the same intensity as the Devils, who generated a pair of breakaways and a third AAA scoring chance in the opening seven minutes.
Devante Smith-Pelly opened the scoring on Saturday night, beating Thomas Greiss with a backhand deke on a breakaway at 7:10 of the first. John Tavares had a chance to answer for the Islanders on a penalty shot, but the Isles captain's try was denied by Schneider.
Travis Zajac put the Devils up 2-0 with a shorthanded goal in the second period, keeping, shooting and scoring low-blocker on a two-on-one rush at 8:49. Pavel Zacha made it 3-0 with a power-play goal, a wrister that deflected off Dennis Seidenberg's skate and past Greiss.
Ladd said the Islanders were having trouble crowding Cory Schnieder's crease in the opening 40 minutes, but found ways to the net in the third. His goal was evidence of the breakthrough, as he snuck his 15th of the season through a netfront pileup to put the Isles on the board at 8:58.
Video: NYI@NJD: Beauvillier slams home his own rebound
Beauvillier made it a one-goal game 5:50 later, skating in one-on-four, putting a shot on Schneider and then chipping his own rebound home at 13:48.
"We did a better job of getting to the goalie and getting in front of his eyes and making it a little tougher for him," Ladd said of the Isles third period. "We were just a little too late tonight."
The Islanders get another crack at the Devils on Sunday night, as the teams meet again to finish the back-to-back, home-and-home series at Barclays Center. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.