Wednesday’s New York Islanders-Toronto Maple Leafs game didn’t have the pace of the Islanders’ two rivalry games that preceded it.
It didn’t have the same result either, as the Islanders lost 4-3 in a shootout, ending their four-game winning streak on Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
John Tavares, Nick Leddy and Ryan Strome scored for the Islanders, who extended their point streak to five games (4-0-1), but couldn’t steal the extra point in overtime or the shootout.
“We got a point in [the second half of] a back-to-back game,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We couldn’t really do anything in overtime or the shootout, John [Tavares] had an opportunity on a breakaway, but we’ll take a point and head home.”
Strome broke a 2-2 deadlock with 5:19 to play in the third period, as his breakaway trickled through Garret Sparks’ five-hole, but the Islanders could not hold the lead, as Toronto’s William Nylander struck on the power play with 1:13 to play forced overtime.
“These points are huge for us,” Strome said. “We had one, but we should have had two. It shows how quickly the game can slip out of your hands.”
Nikita Soshnikov was the only skater to score in the shootout, beating Thomas Greiss (33 saves) in the fourth round. Frans Nielsen had the Islanders’ best chance, but his five-hole attempt caught the inside of Sparks’ leg and just skittered wide.
“Playing a late one last night, getting in late, playing a team at home, you have to overcome some things in the NHL, but there are no excuses, we just have to find a way to hold on,” Tavares said. “We had a chance to seal the deal and we didn’t.”
The loss ended the Islanders’ three-game winning streak at Air Canada Center, but Tavares continued his productive play against the Leafs, scoring his 25th point in 23 games with a breakaway goal in the first period. The Islanders’ captain intercepted a pass at the blue line and sprinted out for an uncontested breakaway knocking his own rebound through Sparks’ five-hole at 8:08.
The Leafs answered with two straight goals, Zach Hyman sweeping a loose puck past Greiss at 11:27 of the first period and Morgan Rielly netting a power-play goal at 10:45 of the second period.
The Islanders didn’t trail for long, as Leddy tied the score 2:09 later. Leddy rushed the puck end-to-end, before snapping a wrist shot far side past Sparks. The goal – Leddy’s fifth of the season – extended his point streak to four games (1G, 5A).
Greiss, who assumed extended starting duties with Jaroslav Halak out for the next six weeks, was sharp, stopping 33 shots, including four in OT. Sparks finished the game with 24 saves.
The Islanders return home to New York for two days before heading to Boston for a Saturday afternoon matinee against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is at 1 p.m.