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Islanders fail to convert odd-man rushes in loss to Nashville

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) blocks a shot

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) blocks a shot against the Nashville Predators during second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.  Credit: AP/Mark Zaleski

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An edge on special teams should have won the game for the Islanders. But not converting on odd-man rushes with the teams playing at even strength cost the Islanders a point.

So, while Saturday afternoon’s surprisingly chippy 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena extended the Islanders’ point streak to five games as they resumed their season-opening, 13-game road trip after five days off, it was also a missed opportunity to pick up their third straight win.

"I liked our game," coach Barry Trotz said. "We were emotionally engaged right from the start. They’ve got a tremendous power play. They were dangerous as all get-out. Our penalty kill was committed. Our power play got us a point in terms of scoring our goals. To me, we lost the game because we had so many two-on-ones and we never capitalized on those two-on-ones. If we do, I think we pull away in the game."

The Islanders (3-2-2), now on an 3-0-2 run, went 2-for-4 on the man advantage while their penalty kill went 4-for-4 against the Predators’ power play, ranked third in the NHL. Ilya Sorokin stopped 21 shots, robbing Filip Forsberg three times in regulation before Forsberg had the decisive goal in the shootout. In overtime, Sorokin stopped Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene and Eeli Tolvanen, all at the crease.

"I’ll take the point," Trotz said. "I wish I had two."

"Of course, you want the two points but I thought it was a pretty good road game," said Josh Bailey, who set up Anthony Beauvillier’s power-play goal from the right circle to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 14:46 of the first period. "We’re collecting points. We played well. They get a break late in the game to tie it up."

Juuse Saros (34 saves) stopped Oliver Wahlstrom and Beauvillier in the shootout before defenseman Roman Josi clinched it for the Predators (4-4-0), who have won three straight.

"When you go to a shootout and don’t score, it’s one of the worst feelings in hockey," Beauvillier said. "It’s a privilege. You go out there, you want to score for your teammates. You kind of feel like you let them down a little bit. But we still got a point."

Wahlstrom’s power-play goal at 12:04 of the second period, a rising wrist shot from the left circle, made it 2-1. It marked the first time this young season the Islanders had scored multiple power-play goals in a game.

The Islanders held a 15-5 shot advantage in the second period.

Tanner Jeannot’s shot through a screen had deflected past Sorokin to tie the game at 1-1 at 6:54 of the second period, ending the NHL’s third star of the week’s shutout streak at 146:54. The Predators tied it again at 2-2 at 11:48 of the third period as defenseman Matt Benning’s shot from the corner deflected in off Jeannot’s shin.

Sorokin had denied Forsberg on a two-on-nothing rush at 7:05 of the third period.

"Nothing surprises me about Sorokie," Brock Nelson said. "That’s a huge save for us and it just gives us confidence. You don’t want to turn the puck over but knowing if you do have a breakdown, you’ve got a guy that’s never out of it."

There were multiple scrums despite the teams not playing last season. Islanders captain Anders Lee had a running feud with defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who was often in the middle of things.

"I thought there was lots of extra shots after the whistle," Trotz said. "There were a couple of things that were a little bit over the line that angered us. But I think we’re better when it’s a little bit emotional."

New York Sports