Matinee games have not been kind to the New York Islanders of late.
John Tavares scored, but the Islanders found themselves in an early hole in the early game, eventually losing 5-1 to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s frustrating,” Ryan Strome said. “I thought we played a pretty good game in Washington too. To be on this road trip and get no points is discouraging. We have a game tomorrow, we have to bounce back quickly, we can’t dwell on this one.”
The Islanders outshot the Red Wings 10-5 in the first period, but the shot advantage didn’t translate to the scoreboard. Detroit led 2-0 after one on goals by Tomas Jurco and Kyle Quincey, both coming in the final six minutes of the period. Jurco found a soft spot just outside the slot and snapped a wrister past Jaroslav Halak at 14:25, while Quincey finished a two-on-one rush with Dylan Larkin at 18:03.
“We were the better team in the first period,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We should have been up. [Goaltender Petr Mrazek] played really well. They get a five-on-three goal and after that it’s tough to come back on a team when a goalie is playing that well.”
The Red Wings padded their lead in the second period, going up 4-0 before the next intermission. Mike Green beat Halak through a screen on a five-on-three power play at 7:32, while Tomas Tatar backhanded in a rebound at 10:20.
“We had opportunities to score and we didn’t,” Johnny Boychuk, who made his return after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury, said. “Their goalie played well.”
Tatar’s goal ended Halak’s night prematurely, as Jean-Francois Berube came out in relief of the Islanders’ starter. Berube stopped six-of-seven shots. Halak stopped nine of 13.
“He’ll find his groove hopefully going forward here,” Capuano said of Halak. “It just wasn’t his night.”
PHOTO GALLERY: ISLANDERS AT RED WINGS
The start of the third period was delayed for 33 minutes due to a gash in the ice caused by the zamboni dragging a metal bolt up the Red Wings zone. To level the playing field, the officials determined that the teams would switch ends.
The delay – and the switch – didn’t spark the Islanders, as Dylan Larkin put the Red Wings up 5-0 at 2:56. Tavares eventually broke through for the Islanders at 4:07 of the third, beating Mrazek with a one-timer for a power-play goal. Mrazek finished the game with 27 saves.
As aforementioned, Saturday’s game marked the return of Boychuk. Capuano said Boychuk going to see moderate minutes in his return, skated 16:52 TOI, registering three hits, a shot and two penalty minutes skating with Nick Leddy.
“I felt good,” Boychuk said. “On the first couple of shifts you want to keep it short and get your feet underneath you. Overall I felt good.”
The Islanders have a quick turnaround before their next game – another matinee – on Sunday afternoon against the Edmonton Oilers at Barclays Center. Puck drop is at 2:30 p.m.