CALGARY, Alberta -- The opponents, the details don't really seem to matter anymore. The Islanders have blurred their third-period meltdowns into one long string of misery, and they added another blown game to the list Friday night.
For the 14th time this season, the Islanders gave away a two-goal lead. For the 12th time in those games, they failed to win.
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After controlling play through 50 or so minutes, much as they did a night earlier in Edmonton, the Islanders made pinpoint mistakes -- a lost man here, a hesitation there -- and came away with nothing.
The Flames scored three goals in the final 8:31 of the third period, the last being Joe Colborne's deflection past Anders Nilsson with 4:19 to go, and the Isles' 4-3 loss marked the fifth time in the last 13 games that they had a two-goal lead and failed to win (0-3-2).
"I remember looking up at the board with 10 minutes to go and thinking, '3-1, this should be an easy one to finish off,' " Thomas Hickey said. "I can't tell you for the life of me why this keeps happening. It's beyond frustrating."
Especially when, once again, the Islanders were the better team for the majority of the game.
Colin McDonald tied it at 1-1 late in the first period, starting the Isles off on a long stretch of dictating play, and Kyle Okposo and Brock Nelson added second-period goals.
The Islanders had a golden chance to get a three-goal lead on a 65-second five-on-three early in the third, but Okposo's one-timer rang off the post and there weren't enough other good chances.
The Islanders have taken a lead into the third period in five of their six games since the Olympic break, since John Tavares went down for the season. They were as good defensively as they've been all season without Thomas Vanek the last three games.
Yet they have one rescued overtime win in Winnipeg, one OT loss in Edmonton and now a regulation loss here to show for such efforts.
"It's not like we've got anything to lose now," said Frans Nielsen, who was disgusted with himself for losing Sean Monahan down low on the tying goal with 5:38 left. "There's no reason we should feel nervous late in games."
Yet it continues to happen.
"We've been discussing it all year because it's been happening all year, and we discussed it tonight, too," Hickey said. "There's nothing the coaches can say, nothing really we can say anymore. You have to take ownership of these games and play like they're all that matters to you."