Islanders lose to Oilers in OT after taking two-goal lead in first period
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EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Islanders heard plenty of aspersions cast on them from all corners after the disappointing Thomas Vanek deal Wednesday.
On Thursday, they had a chance to take a small step away from the bad feelings left from the trade deadline. Instead, they were left wondering how yet another two-goal lead, yet another third-period lead, slipped away.
After playing 48 of their best minutes of the season, the Islanders surrendered a two-goal lead for the 13th time this season. The Oilers' Philip Larsen tied the score with 3:07 left and Taylor Hall jammed in the winner 2:29 into overtime, leaving the Isles on the short end of a 3-2 decision.
The Islanders led 2-0 after a period on goals by Frans Nielsen and Anders Lee, held a 23-9 shot edge late in the second and blanked the Oilers for nearly 481/2 minutes. "We shut them down for most of that game," Calvin de Haan said.
"I don't really know what it is," de Haan added. "We played solid, we made a couple mistakes and the lead's gone. It seems like that every time."
The Islanders fell to 2-6-5 in the games in which they've given away a two-goal lead. It was the fourth time in the five games since the Olympic break that they have taken a lead into the third period and not carried it through for a regulation win; they are 2-1-1 in those games, with both wins coming in OT.
Nielsen's goal, his career-best 19th, came on a two-on-one shorthanded rush. Lee's fourth in five games since being recalled was a deflection of Brian Strait's shot.
But the Oilers' Ryan Smyth scored on a power play with 11:32 to go, set up by a scattered shift from Lee, Ryan Strome and company, and a few missed assignments let Larsen walk off the wall to beat Evgeni Nabokov.
"We made mistakes," Jack Capuano said. "When you anticipate and you cheat, it can come back to bite you. That's what happened with some of our young guys."
Wednesday's trade deadline had been the Islanders' focus, even as the players sat in the visitors' room at Rexall Place, readying for practice. Like plenty of fans, the Isles were watching the Canadian deadline broadcasts and hearing their team's name dragged through the mud both before and after the deal that sent Vanek to the Canadiens for a smaller-than-hoped-for return -- a conditional second-round pick and Swedish prospect Sebastian Collberg.
"Ever since I've been here, plenty of media people have enjoyed taking their shots at us," Matt Martin said Thursday morning. "There's not a lot we can do about it except try to shut them up by winning games. This year didn't go the way we've wanted it to. All we can do is try to win some of these last 18 games, stick together and move forward."
Travis Hamonic saw Andrew MacDonald, his good friend and long-time defense partner, head out the door on Tuesday. Listening to his team get roundly mocked on Wednesday didn't sit well with the emotional defenseman, who for the remainder of the season will wear the alternate captain's "A" that MacDonald had worn.
"Someone's always going to have a [wise-guy] remark, it seems -- for you, for the organization," Hamonic said. "It's a lot easier to say something bad about someone or some team than it is something good, and people are going to report how they want about us.
"For me, for some guys, you want to use that stuff as motivation. We want to turn this thing around and maybe remember what was said about us."
Notes & quotes: D Matt Donovan, in his third stint with the team this season, and LW Mike Halmo both played after being recalled the day before. Halmo will take the spot occupied by Eric Boulton (broken hand), though the 5-10 Halmo might not be able to do the heavyweight battling Boulton did. "I'm not sure I'm going to fight the guys Boults did," Halmo said, "but if there's a need to protect a teammate or step in, I'll be there."