VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Islanders rallied three times from one-goal deficits to earn a point. But they really needed two.
The Canucks won a 5-4 shootout on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena, extending the Islanders' losing streak to seven (0-3-4) as they opened a four-game road trip. And it kept the Islanders from regaining a playoff spot.
“You’d like two but we fight back and get that point,” said Andrew Ladd, who scored his first goal since Oct. 30, 2018, just 1:36 into the game but missed wide on the Islanders’ last chance of the shootout. “It could be the point that gets us in. At this time of the year, you can’t dwell on the what-ifs. You’ve got to move on and get ready for Calgary.”
J.T. Miller, in the second round, scored the lone goal in the shootout.
The Islanders (35-23-10) are one point behind the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes for the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference, with the Rangers two points behind.
“It seems like we’re close,” said Brock Nelson, who scored twice to tie his career high with 26 goals and set a career high with 54 points. “We’ve just got to find that play that gets us over the hump and turns it around. Right now, it’s tough. It seems like everything is kind of stacked up against us. You find a way to get a lead and they battle back.”
Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves, including stopping defenseman Quinn Hughes in the waning seconds of overtime. Thatcher Demko stopped 45 shots for the Canucks (36-27-6), his best coming on a sprawling save on Mathew Barzal at the right post at 8:55 of the second period.
The Islanders played the final two periods one forward short with Josh Bailey exiting at 13:28 of the first period with an unspecified injury. Coach Barry Trotz offered no update after the game.
It was another game with a costly penalty from Barzal, whose cross-check on defenseman Troy Stecher at 17:39 of the second period led to Bo Horvat’s power-play goal 12 seconds later as the Canucks took a 4-3 lead. Barzal’s four-minute high-sticking penalty late in the third period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the visiting Hurricanes led to Vincent Trocheck’s power-play winner in overtime.
“He was skating really well,” Trotz said of Barzal, who had a game-high seven shots in 22:58. “You’ve got to stay in the moment. We just got the momentum, the energy, we started to get it back. That’s something you have to fight through.”
Still, Nelson tied it from the right post to make it 4-4 at 4:32 of the third period.
The Canucks scored on their first two shots after Ladd’s goal. Adam Gaudette tied it at 1:57 of the first period and Tyler Toffoli made it 2-1 at 2:41.
Jordan Eberle tied it at 2-2 at the crease with 58.7 seconds left in the first period but Zack MacEwen’s tip regained a 3-2 lead for the Canucks at 2:14 of the second period.
Nelson tied it again at 17:00 of the second period, getting to the crease for a backhander after the puck hopped past defenseman Oscar Fantenberg.
Amid their immediate playoff push concerns, the Islanders are also mulling the consequences of the global COVID-19 outbreak, including potentially playing games without fans.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recommended no spectators at indoor events in the state but the Columbus Blue Jackets plan to continue allowing fans. The Islanders are at Columbus on March 30.
“It’s just scary times and whatever the government decides in terms of what’s right, then you have to do it,” Trotz said. “There shouldn’t be any pushback.”
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