The New York Islanders couldn't complete the season sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as the Isles fell 7-1 to the Leafs on Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.
Jason Chimera's penalty shot was sandwiched between a pair of offensive bursts for the Leafs, who scored four third period goals to blow open a 3-1 game. The loss was the Islanders first against the Leafs in three games this season, but also squandered opportunity for the Islanders to jump into a playoff spot, as Toronto - who holds the second Wild Card - extended the gap to three points.
"As much as it's just one loss, it's a humbling loss," Interim Coach Doug Weight said. "They played a playoff game tonight. We played a hard game, but we didn't play a playoff game, which is virtually what it was."
Josh Leivo had a game-high three points (1G, 2A), while Auston Matthews scored a game-high two goals. William Nylander and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and an assist, with Kadri netting the eventual winner late in the first period.
The Islanders came out with some jump on Tuesday, but couldn't solve Frederik Andersen (33 saves), who established a rhythm early and stymied the Isles all night. Andersen made a pair of big stops in the first period, denying a John Tavares power-play wrister, as well as a sliding pad save on Alan Quine shortly after.
Video: NYI@TOR: Chimera nets penalty shot with quick release
Those saves proved important, as Leafs opened up a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period. Leivo beat Thomas Greiss (28 saves on 34 shots) low blocker 11:36 and Nikita Zaitsev's shot caromed off Kadri and past Greiss at 19:28.
"They got some bounces and we didn't," Chimera said. "We hit a couple of posts in the first period and I thought we deserved a little better the first couple of periods anyways."
Andersen was the difference again in the second period, as the Islanders outshot the Leafs 16-11 in the middle frame. Greiss' attempt to steer a Kardi shot aside deflected off a crashing Nylander to make it 3-0 at 9:26, but the Islanders got on the board before the end of the period. Matt Hunwick clipped Chimera on a breakaway at 16:55, leading to a penalty shot, which the 37-year-old sniped top corner over Andersen's blocker.
Chimera's 14th of the season gave the Islanders a spark at the end of the second period, but Matthews scored the crucial next goal to start the third, dismantling the Islanders' comeback bid. Toronto added three more goals before the end of the contest, as Tyler Bozak, Matthews beat Greiss, while Hunwick scored on JF Berube, who stopped 6-of-7 shots in relief.
"It could have been tied up after two periods and the third period kind of got away from us," Chimera said. "You just have to write some games off. It's hard to do this time of year, you have to get two points… You have to forget about it and move on to the next game right away."
The Islanders are back in action on Thursday night, as they host the New York Rangers at Barclays Center. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.