The New York Islanders’ three-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday, as they fell 5-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center.
Matthew Murray made 24 saves for his first-career NHL shutout, as the Islanders were blanked at Barclays Center – where they have a 24-10-4 record – for the first time this season. Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Matt Cullen, Oskar Sundqvist and Tom Kuhnhackl scored for the Penguins.
“Clearly we weren’t very good. Execution was poor. We seemed very flat. No excuses for that effort, it’s embarrassing,” John Tavares said.
Saturday’s game was a chance for the Islanders to gain ground on the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division standings. Pittsburgh entered the game with a three-point lead in the standings and left Brooklyn with a five-point advantage.
The loss didn’t cost the Islanders their first Wild Card berth, but the Philadelphia Flyers pulled to within two points with a win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a big game at an important time of year and to play the way we did is unacceptable,” Tavares said.
Despite facing a rookie goalie on Saturday, the Islanders were unable to really pressure the 21-year-old, as the Penguins clogged shooting lanes and blocked 15 shots.
“We didn’t create enough,” Kyle Okposo said. “We didn’t have any second and third chances. It was just go in there, get a chance and they cleared the puck really well.”
The Islanders didn’t have a lot of chances Saturday, but Okposo arguably had their best one on a first period power play, ringing a shot off the post behind Murray. The missed chance proved costly, as the Penguins opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal on the same power play. A miscommunication between Nick Leddy and Jean-Francois Berube led to a one-on-one chance for Sundqvist, who beat Berube for his first-career NHL goal.
The Penguins took a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal midway through the second period, as Patric Hornqvist deflected Justin Schultz’s point shot past Berube at 8:09. Matt Cullen made it 3-0 seven minutes later, beating Berube up high from in tight.
“You’re not going to win too many games when you give up a shorthanded goal and a couple of power-play goals,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said.
Kessel beat Berube with a snap shot off the rush at 10:40 of the third period, while Kuhnhackl rounded out the scoring at 15:01.
Tavares said Saturday’s game was going to sting over the next day and a half, before the Islanders retake the ice on Monday night against the Tampa bay Lightning. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.