When the Islanders allowed 51 shots on goal Tuesday, it was anything but an anomaly.
Leading the league with 2,076 shots surrendered on net — with second-place Toronto more than 100 shots behind at 1,955 — and 35.79 per game, opponents have been getting to the Islanders’ goaltenders at an alarming rate. Tuesday’s 4-1 home loss to the Blue Jackets was the third game the Islanders allowed at least 50 shots on goal in the last 30 days.
Since winning in Las Vegas, 2-1, on Jan. 25, the Islanders have lost six of eight. They allowed at least 40 shots in six of those games.
After multiple players described this week’s three matchups against Metro Division teams as some of the most important games of the season, coach Doug Weight described his team as “flat” Tuesday.
“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” center John Tavares said after practice Wednesday at Northwell Health Ice Center. “You can’t change what already happened so being worried about the last couple of results and hanging our heads on it is not going to help us for tomorrow and Friday.”
The Isles (27-25-6, 60 points) fell to 12-18-4 in their last 34 games. They’ve allowed 4.1 goals per game over that span, including at least three goals in all six games this month.
Weight said Wednesday’s practice was “focused, but somber.”
“It’s disappointing to be in the position we’re in but we refocused, we had a good practice,” he said. “Worked on some things and got to go back to work. We got to execute better, there’s really not much to say about it.”
The Islanders may get a reprieve Thursday when they host the Rangers, a team they’ve defeated in each of the previous five matchups, including twice this season. The Rangers, sitting one point behind the Islanders in the standings with 59, desperately need a win as well. But Weight hopes his team’s recent success against its New York rival will help Thursday.
“It’s always fun to play them and they’re in the same situation we are,” Weight said. “They’re playing for their lives.”
Center Casey Cizikas said he expects an exciting atmosphere at Barclays Center, but that the Islanders need to view every game as dire at this point.
“We got to play like it’s a playoff game,” Cizikas said. “Every single game from here on is a playoff game for us . . . ”
The Islanders enter Thursday’s game three points behind Carolina for the last wild-card spot.
“We’re right in striking distance,” Weight said. “It doesn’t feel good right now but we have to go at it against a big rival and try to get two points and go from there.”