Islanders limping to Olympic break with loss to Calgary
John Tavares summed it up neatly.
"We basically find ways to lose games more than we find ways to win," he said after the latest defeat, a 4-2 loss to the Flames Thursday night at the Coliseum that was decided on David Jones' goalmouth scramble score with 5:32 to play.
Another factor was an ugly night for the Islanders' power play, which went 0-for-5 and is on an 0-for-30 slide in the last seven games, a stretch in which the Isles have gone 1-5-1.
The Islanders were the better team for about the first 35 minutes, earning power plays and forcing the play in the Calgary end. They did just about everything but score, and found themselves down two goals in a 3:53 span late in the second after one unlucky bounce and one poor penalty-killing sequence.
Thomas Hickey salvaged something from the second period, putting home a rebound with 6.1 seconds to go. Calvin de Haan tied it 7:31 into the third, setting the stage for a possible ninth comeback from a two-goal deficit for a victory.
Instead, the Islanders were left without any points against one of the few teams below them in the league standings.
Jones deflected Dennis Wideman's seemingly harmless point shot and Evgeni Nabokov turned it aside, but Matt Stajan threw the rebound back on net and Jones, barreling into the crease between two Islanders, had the puck bank off his leg and go in just before he bumped Nabokov.
"It was real close to goaltender interference," Jack Capuano said.
Even so, the Islanders had another chance to tie, getting their fifth power play of the night with 3:09 left. With all their usual firepower on the ice, that last power play produced one shot on Flames goaltender Reto Berra, who had 28 saves.
"I think we're getting chances; we're just not putting the puck in the net," said Tavares, who snapped a four-game point drought with an assist on de Haan's goal but has gone eight games without a goal. "To say [the power play] is not producing now is wrong, even though it's costing us some games."
Thomas Vanek, who appears unlikely to be traded by Friday's 3 p.m. Olympic roster freeze, heard some boos from the Nassau Coliseum crowd in his first game since news broke that he turned down an Islanders contract.
He heard more boos when he missed a power-play slam dunk early in the third, though he did fight through an apparent ankle injury in the second and a hard hit in the third to pick up an assist.
The Islanders made a minor move, sending Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, their only two free-agent acquisitions last summer, to Chicago for a 2014 fourth-round pick. But Vanek and defenseman Andrew MacDonald remain and likely will do so until after the Olympic break.
The Islanders have one more game before that break, Saturday in Denver against the Avalanche. Even with the playoffs more and more out of reach, they wanted to hit the break strong. But Thursday night brought more frustration, the kind that has been around all season long.