Barry Trotz didn’t even wait for a question after stepping behind the lectern.
“We were awful,” the Islanders coach said to open his postgame news conference. “Plain and simple, the right team won tonight. No question that was our worst game of the year.”
The Islanders struggled to mount a consistent attack or forecheck, were outskated and beaten to pucks and were unable to hold a two-goal lead forged despite some sloppy first-period play.
The inconsistent effort ended with a 4-3, five-round shootout loss to the Canadiens on Monday night at Barclays Center as the Islanders extended their point streak to seven games despite having their five-game winning streak snapped.
“It definitely wasn’t our best game,” said center Casey Cizikas, who scored twice in the first period.
“I thought we were fortunate to walk away with a point, but we had a great opportunity to get two. As a group, we’ve got to find a way to get it together and get those games because who knows at the end of the season what it comes down to.”
The Islanders (8-4-2) remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division after concluding a three-game homestand.
“We played five minutes of hockey in the first, I thought we played five minutes in the second and maybe five minutes in the third,” Trotz said.
“We had chances against. We were loose. Our brains weren’t in the right place. We were losing too many battles. The turnovers were way too many. We just didn’t have it. When you’re not at your best, you have to simplify it, and we refused to simplify it.
“We’re a better team than what we showed today.’’
Thomas Greiss made 32 saves in his third straight start while Antti Niemi, who hardly was overworked, stopped 21 shots for the Canadiens (8-4-2).
Joel Armia scored the lone goal in the shootout as Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey — who had his eight-game point streak snapped — Mathew Barzal and Valtteri Filppula all were unsuccessful for the Islanders.
"I think they were better the whole game,” said Filppula, who converted Leo Komarov’s feed on a two-on-one to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 7:44 of the first period. “To be honest, a point is good for us. I think they were the better team today.”
The Canadiens tied it at 3 at 7:43 of the third period as Artturi Lehkonen established position in the low slot and deflected Noah Juulsen’s shot past Greiss.
The Islanders scored on two of their first four shots and had three goals on eight first-period shots to take a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.
Cizikas got to the crease to knock in the rebound of defenseman Adam Pelech’s shot from the slot at 4:04. But the Canadiens responded quickly as Jonathan Drouin snapped a shot over Greiss’ glove from the left circle at 5:59.
Cizikas made it 3-1 at 15:58 when his attempted feed to the middle went off the skates of defenseman Jordie Benn and right back to him as he skated toward the right post. Cizikas, after regaining control, was able to beat Niemi to the short side.
The Canadiens came within 3-2 at 15:36 on Max Domi’s power-play goal. That snapped the Canadiens’ 0-for-16 drought on the man advantage.