A second-straight comeback wasn't in the cards for the New York Islanders, who dropped an 4-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
Down 4-1, Anders Lee's career-high 26th goal teased the potential of a third period comeback, but that's as close as the Islanders came. The Jets rattled off four straight goals between the 9:22 mark of the first and the 11:31 mark of the second and rode that stretch all the way to the final horn.
The loss, combined with the Toronto Maple Leafs' win over Tampa Bay, bounced the Islanders out of the final playoff spot - one point back of Toronto - with 12 games to play.
"You're not going to win one, lose one, win one, lose one and go to the playoffs," Interim Coach Doug Weight said. "We looked a bit like a tired team. Mentally, we looked like a team that practiced twice in the last 25 games."
Video: WPG@NYI: Pelech wrists one through traffic from point
Fatigue wasn't a factor at the start, as Adam Pelech walked the line and beat Connor Hellebuyck (27 saves) with a wrist shot 38 seconds into the game. John Tavares had two golden chances to put the Islanders up 2-0, but was denied twice by Hellebuyck on an ensuing power play. It didn't seem like a pair of crucial saves at the time, but proved to be a pivotal moment in the game.
"I wish I could have a couple of those looks back on those power plays," Tavares said of being robbed from the side of the net on a tic-tac-toe one-timer and again in front of the net. "Those I have to put in and if I put that in it can be a different game."
The Jets responded with a push of their own, as Nikolaj Ehlers set up Bryan Little for a pair of goals in the back half of the period, including the 2-1 marker with 1:25 to play in the first. Mathieu Perreault's short-side wrister put Winnipeg up 3-1 3:24 into the second period and held up as the eventual winner.
Video: WPG@NYI: Greiss slides across to rob Dano with pad
Channelling the spirit of Tuesday's comeback win in Carolina, Thomas Greiss (24 saves) kept the Isles within reach with three solid saves, stretching his pad to deny Marko Dano, gobbling up a Dustin Byfuglien partial breakaway and stoning Blake Wheeler in front of the net. The Islanders caught another break midway through the period, successfully challenging Nic Paten's would-be 4-1 goal on as Patrik Laine was offside.
But Greiss' work and the successful challenge didn't swing momentum back for the tired Islanders, as Adam Lowry made it 4-1 at 11:31.
Video: WPG@NYI: Lee spins, buries wrist shot
"They just got a couple bounces and it's a 2-1 game and we felt just fine," Lee said. "That kind of stuff happens, we've come back from spots like that all year, but we were unable to overcome the 4-1 lead."
The Islanders look to bounce back on Saturday as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in matinee action. Puck drop is at 1 p.m.