It’s been two seasons since the Islanders gave up at least five goals in three straight games and the same amount of time since the Isles gave up five goals in a game and won.
Neither of those benchmarks is worth celebrating or trying to continue. After a 6-0-1 run in which the Islanders allowed only 10 goals in seven games, the last three have been turning Doug Weight’s hair a little grayer.
“We’re not giving up chance after chance after chance, but the ones we are giving up are really, really good chances,” Johnny Boychuk said after Monday’s 6-5 overtime win over the Maple Leafs. “The results are what matter most right now, but we need to clean up a bit.”
Weight hasn’t pointed the finger at either of his goaltenders for the 15 goals allowed in the last three games — Thomas Greiss lost 5-4 in Detroit and got the win on Monday, while J-F Berube dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Hurricanes on Saturday. The Islanders have reduced their shots on goal against under Weight and even in these three goal-crazy games have surrendered only 24, 25 and 32 shots on net, under the team’s average of 32.5 shots on goal allowed.
“You see 10 goals on (49) shots and you think it’s bad goaltending,” Weight said after Saturday’s loss. “But we’re really not giving up a lot. We’re also not helping our goalies out.”
Perhaps the one big way the Islanders are aiding their goaltenders is by putting pressure on the opposing net. Allowing 15 in three games is normally a sure way to lose three straight. That the Isles have managed to get three of six points during this stretch and to come from behind four times in the three third periods shows a bit more resilience than the team had in the first quarter of the season.
“We are scoring some goals so that’s a positive,” said Ryan Strome, who has a goal and four assists in the last three. “If the offense weren’t going well it could obviously be a bigger issue, but we have some confidence going there.”
Weight gave his players Tuesday off and they get back to work Wednesday in advance of a huge game Thursday in Philadelphia. The Islanders are three points behind the Flyers with three games in hand, with Philly holding onto the second wild-card spot in the East.
If the Islanders continue to play with fire defensively, their climb out of the Eastern Conference depths may hit a road block.