The Islanders have let two third-period leads slip in three games at Nassau Coliseum this young season. They don't want this to become a trend.
Tuesday night's stung the most: Facing the winless Buffalo Sabres and holding a 3-2 lead late into the third, a failed clearing attempt and a goal through traffic brought the first disheartening moment of the night.
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Two shootout goals allowed by Evgeni Nabokov and two shootout saves by Ryan Miller brought the second, a 4-3 shootout loss by the Islanders that left them 2-2-2 on the season and more than a bit frustrated at not only giving away a point, but leaving with just one when they were 2:01 from two points.
"When we have the lead, we have to bear down and get the job done," said John Tavares, whose one-timer caromed off Matt Moulson's knee and past Miller at 8:44 of the third to snap a 2-2 tie. Moulson was given credit for the goal.
"We haven't sealed the door on teams when we've had the chance," Tavares said.
The Isles held a 2-0 lead into the third on Oct. 5, only to let the Blue Jackets roar back and overtake them with speed and a harder edge to their game. Last night, the Isles "never let our foot off the gas," according to Jack Capuano, and their 44 shots on Miller bore that out.
But even with a power play immediately after Moulson's power-play goal, the Isles could not give themselves a cushion. So Brian Strait's clearing attempt ended up right at Tyler Myers' stick late in the third. He fed Marcus Foligno, who spun and threw a wrist shot from near the blue line that got through traffic and under Nabokov's glove.
After consecutive 3-2 regulation losses in Chicago and Nashville over the weekend, in which the Islanders put 19 and 16 shots on goal, Capuano needed to see more rubber on the opposing goal and more Islanders driving to the net.
He got that last night, with the Isles totaling 32 shots on Miller after two periods. But the Isles had coughed up leads twice through the first 40 minutes.
Frans Nielsen's wrist shot in the first was answered by Tyler Ennis' jam shot early in the second. Matt Martin's goal was answered by Thomas Vanek on the power play 1:11 later.
"We outplayed them for most of the game," said Kyle Okposo, whose line with Tavares and Michael Grabner produced 17 shots on goal. "We should have come out with the two points. We needed a couple more second and third opportunities."
Okposo led the way in showing some snarl, jawing with Steve Ott in the third after a borderline boarding call on Okposo for knocking Ott into the boards and then Okposo jumping in when Ott pulled Tavares' helmet off a few minutes later.
"I thought our guys stuck together," said Capuano, who was accentuating the positive despite his team going winless for a third straight game. "I think if we play this way [tomorrow, when the Oilers visit], we'll be fine. Maybe we deserved a better result tonight."
There have been plenty of nights the last few seasons when the Isles gave away points, sometimes in long stretches. It's still early this season and they do not want to make this a regular occurrence, no matter how well they played.