Islanders fall to Stars, drop into last place

Kevin Poulin #60 of the New York Islanders

Kevin Poulin #60 of the New York Islanders makes a first period save against the Dallas Stars. (Dec. 15, 2011) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

One bad game for the Islanders turned into two. Now, after blowing a one-goal lead in the third period and dropping a 3-2 decision to the visiting Stars, it's a four-game losing streak, and the Islanders have fairly well erased all the confidence and fortitude they built up during their 4-0-2 streak.

They also are back in last in the Eastern Conference, falling a point behind the Hurricanes, though with four games in hand. But after clawing out of the cellar with a hard-working, clutch-scoring two weeks, three poor games and an 0-3-1 streak have returned the Islanders to the basement.

"It's really disappointing to lose three straight after playing really well for a long stretch before that," P.A. Parenteau said.

After losing a winnable game in Montreal on Tuesday, the Islanders were guilty of blowing a lead they might not have deserved. They had only 13 shots on goal through two periods of trying to make individual plays to break down Dallas' trap, but Kyle Okposo's second effort to tuck in a loose puck with 1:36 left in the second gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead entering the third.

But Tim Wallace took a questionable interference penalty 57 seconds in, and Brenden Morrow buried a pass from Steve Ott 10 seconds after that to tie the score.

A few minutes later, Mark Streit left his point vacated to hunt for a loose puck around the Stars' net. Dallas emerged with a three-on-one and Jamie Benn buried a wrist shot behind Kevin Poulin at 4:33 for the deciding goal.

"We made a couple mistakes in the third that cost us the game," Jack Capuano said. "Uncalled for."

Poulin was very good in his first start of the season, making 26 saves after getting called up from Bridgeport Thursday morning.

Calvin de Haan also played a nice game in his NHL debut, looking calm and collected in 13:01 of ice time.

But the rest of the Islanders tried too hard to break through Dallas' defensive system rather than keep it simple, and it ended up costing them in the third.

"We tried to make the extra play," said Michael Grabner, who tied the score at 16:38 of the first when Okposo's cross-ice pass caromed in off Grabner's skate. "We've got to find a way to win these games when we're up a goal or it's tight. We have to get some points."

Streit was on for both of the Stars' third-period goals. Capuano wasn't pleased with his captain on Morrow's power-play score, either, after he got caught too high in the zone, leaving a two-on-one down low.

"You've got to make yourself big there," Capuano said. "It's a pretty simple play."

The Islanders lost Brian Rolston after the first period to a concussion and already had Steve Staios (upper body) missing. But even down to 11 forwards and with some curious calls by the officials, the Islanders had a lead after 40 minutes and could have closed it out with some consistent work.

Instead, they dropped back behind the entire Eastern Conference again.

"It's a game we should have won," Capuano said, echoing a sentiment from Tuesday night's loss to the Canadiens. With the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild on tap Saturday and the Jets in Winnipeg on Tuesday, the Islanders have to find their edge again.

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