The promise the Islanders saw in goalie Christopher Gibson’s play was nowhere to be found on Thursday night.
“Today was just one of those games that tells me I still have a lot of things to work on to play with the best,” Gibson said.
The Capitals beat the Islanders, 7-3, at Barclays Center and chased Gibson from his first home start of the season at 10:22 of the second period. He had allowed five goals on 12 shots.
The teams meet again on Friday night at Washington.
“We didn’t get any bounces but we also had breakdowns that weren’t very good,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “This time of year, when you’re fighting for your life and we don’t get those bounces, you’ve got to have a little bit of anger and drive. Playoff hockey. It just wasn’t there.”
The Islanders (30-30-10) remain in last place in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Rangers, and are 10 points behind the Devils for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They fell short in their attempt to win consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 15-16.
Philip Grubauer, allowed to settle in after a shaky start, made 35 saves for the Capitals (40-23-7), who remain in first place in the division.
Jaroslav Halak wound up stopping eight of nine shots.
Gibson, making his third straight start and fourth in the last five games, was coming off Sunday’s 50-save performance as the Islanders snapped an 0-4-4 skid with a 5-2 win at Calgary to end a 1-0-3 road trip.
“We played pretty well,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said. “I know it was 7-3. I don’t know what to tell you.”
If the rest of this disappointing season does not include any sort of playoff pursuit, the time can be well spent evaluating whether Gibson, 25, can be part of the Islanders’ goalie rotation in the future.
Both Gibson, playing on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 in the NHL, and Halak, completing a four-year, $18-million deal, are impending unrestricted free agents. Thursday was Gibson’s eighth NHL appearance.
Andre Burakovsky, parked in the slot, deflected a shot past Gibson’s left pad to make it 4-2 at 3:12 of the second period.
After Cal Clutterbuck was whistled for slashing Tom Wilson, who in the first period left his skates and briefly knocked Casey Cizikas from the game, Nicklas Backstrom batted a power-play goal over Gibson’s glove at 10:22 and Halak was summoned.
“We needed a spark,” Weight said.
Gibson looked suspect on two of the Capitals’ three first-period goals, which came on nine shots.
“I wasn’t happy with my game tonight,” Gibson said. “There was more than one goal I should have had. I’m disappointed with my performance.”
Lars Eller beat Gibson to the far post from the right circle to tie it at 1 at 2:19 and defenseman Dmitry Orlov slipped a shot underneath the goalie’s pads from below the left circle to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead at 17:17.
Andrew Ladd snapped a 25-game goal-less streak dating to Dec. 21, tying the score at 2 at 12:29 of the first period after Brock Nelson opened the scoring at 2:19.
Sign up for Newsday’s Islanders texts with a 14-day free trial at newsday.com/islestext.