The New York Islanders' two-game winning streak was snapped on Tuesday night, as the Isles dropped a 2-1 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs at NYCB Live - Nassau Coliseum.
Jordan Eberle scored a late third period goal for the Islanders, while Calle Rosen and John Tavares scored for the Maple Leafs, who clinched a playoff berth with the win.
"They had an opportunity to clinch tonight and I think we saw their best," Matt Martin said. "We were choppy at times, but we had some opportunities. We just couldn't get them past them. Credit to them. They played a really good hockey game."
With the loss, the Islanders (99 points) miss a chance to make up ground on the division-leading Washington Capitals (102 points), who also lost 5-3 to the Florida Panthers.
ANDERSEN HOLDS OFF ISLES:
Barry Trotz acknowledged that while his team had beat Toronto handily in their first two meetings this season, they'd done so without facing off against the Maple Leafs number one goalie Frederik Andersen.
Andersen made 28 saves for the win and didn't give the Islanders much, gobbling up rebounds to limit the secondary opportunities for the Isles.
"They had a lot of desperation in their game," a hoarse Barry Trotz said after the game. "We needed a little more in ours."
Eberle was the lone Islander to solve the Leafs goalie, burying a nifty no-look feed from Brock Nelson in front of the net for a power-play goal with 5:05 to play.
Eberle's goal - which extended his scoring streak to a season-high three games - cut the deficit to 2-1, but that's as close as the Islanders came. Andersen robbed Anders Lee on a backdoor play from Mathew Barzal with under two minutes to go to seal the win.
With Andersen dialed in, the Leafs only needed two goals for two points on Monday. Rosen's first NHL goal - a long-range wrister that beat Robin Lehner - opened the scoring 2:17 of the second period.
Tavares made it 2-0 Toronto at 3:50 of the third period, snapping a Mitch Marner feed high past Lehner.
"It was one of those games where the first bounce kind of got them a little bit of momentum to it," Lehner said. "Obviously, they got it. It sucks. I think we could have played a bit better. It was one we wanted to win for sure."
POWER PLAY GOES 1-FOR-4:
The Islanders power play went 1-for-4 on Monday night, converting for the first time on Coliseum ice since the NHL All-Star Break (a 1-for-33 stretch).
The Islanders had back to back power-play opportunities midway through the second period, managing three shots over the two advantages. Head Coach Barry Trotz said he liked the Isles mentality in the zone on Monday, but felt his team had trouble at the face-off dot and on zone entries.
Eberle's goal ended the lengthy home slump late in the third period.
The Islanders head out on a two-game road trip to wrap up the regular season starting on Thursday night in Sunrise, FL.