Perhaps the Islanders deserved better than a 4-3 shootout loss to the Oilers on Saturday night at Barclays Center. But what they deserve means little in the face of a 4-6-2 record, with only four points in their last six games and concern over losing Travis Hamonic to injury.
Hamonic blocked a shot with his right arm late in the first period and the puck caromed right to Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, who scored into a yawning net to pull the Oilers even at 2.
The Oilers’ Milan Lucic scored on the power play to tie it at 3-3 in the second period after Johnny Boychuk crashed hard into the side boards and couldn’t get back in the play.
After a wide-open overtime, the Islanders again went without a shootout goal. Marc Letestu’s goal in round three of the shootout sent the Isles to defeat yet again, even though they held Connor McDavid to no points. The Oilers star had six of Edmonton’s 23 shots on Jaroslav Halak.
“Right now it just seems like things aren’t going our way,” said Halak, who robbed Jordan Eberle and McDavid in overtime in his second straight good outing. “We can talk about bad bounces here and there, but we have to create our own bounces, our own luck.”
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead in the opening 5:49 of the game, with Nick Leddy beating Cam Talbot just 13 seconds in and Shane Prince chipping one over Talbot for the two-goal edge.
But the score was tied at 12:13 and the Islanders were down a defenseman. Patrick Maroon tipped a point shot past Halak at 8:22 and, on the first power play of the game, Draisaitl scored. Meanwhile, Hamonic headed to the dressing room holding his right arm and leaving the Isles down a defenseman for the bulk of the night.
“It’s a concern,” Jack Capuano said. “He’s a tough kid, so you know for him not to come back . . . We have to see how he is. He’s one of our leaders, a right-shot D-man who plays 21, 22 minutes a night.”
Down to five defensemen and facing the young, energetic Oilers, the Islanders pulled themselves together well. Casey Cizikas pounced on a rebound of Dennis Seidenberg’s shot to restore the Isles’ lead at 11:18 of the second period but, after a turnover and penalty by John Tavares on McDavid, the Oilers tied it on Lucic’s goal.
The Islanders’ penalty kill was one of their strongest aspects a season ago, and they began this season by killing off 21 of 22 opportunities through six games. But they’ve allowed nine goals in the last 24 times short, a 62.5 percent success rate that has cost them points they desperately need.
In addition, the scuffling power play went 0-for-3 and has gone 4-for-35 this season.
“We obviously need to improve on special teams,” Tavares said. “That could go a long way.”
Even with the frustrating single point earned as the regulation horn sounded, the Isles would have been delighted with any sort of win. Tavares, at the end of a monstrously long OT shift, undressed Benoit Pouliot and walked in alone, but Talbot got a piece of his shot.
Capuano tried out an entirely new shootout trio, but Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera could not convert.
The Islanders will finish their season-opening stretch of 10 home games out of 13 under .500, a place no team can afford to be as the winter holidays approach.
“We’ve just got to keep working,” Tavares said. “Just find a way to break through.”