The Islanders were adamant that they are not deflated by the past two nights. But winnable games against opponents out of the East playoff picture both ended 5-4 the wrong way, with Saturday’s an overtime loss to the Hurricanes at Barclays Center.
After a 7-1-1 run in which the Islanders were very structured and stingy defensively, they gave up 10 goals in a lost weekend despite producing enough offense for two wins and a precious four points.
Instead it was a single point, gained on Josh Bailey’s third-period goal to tie Saturday’s game but a second point lost in OT when John Tavares broke his stick on a defensive-zone draw and Ron Hainsey ended it with a one-timed slapper past J-F Berube.
Couple that with Friday’s 5-4 loss in Detroit on a double-deflected goal with 27.9 seconds to go and there could be some shrinkage from the Isles’ good feelings of late.
“No, no,” Bailey said when asked if these back-to-back, high-scoring losses have dented the Isles’ burgeoning confidence. “We’ve done some good things and the last couple we’ve slipped a little, but not that much. We should’ve won both these games. It’s not the time of year to dwell on the negatives.”
The Red Wings swooped past the Isles in the second period Friday for three goals on Thomas Greiss. On Saturday, the Hurricanes scored three on Berube in the middle period on a couple bad breakdowns that left Carolina shooters wide open.
The worst was Calvin de Haan’s giveaway into the slot as the final seconds of the middle period wound down. An initial shot was blocked, but Teuvo Teravainen found the loose puck and swept it home with two seconds to go for a 4-3 Hurricanes lead after two.
“You’ve got to know the time of the game there, keep it on the yellow (baseboard along the wall),” Doug Weight said. “We had some breakdowns and they took advantage.”
The Islanders, as they did in Detroit, carried the play in the third as they pushed for the tie. Tavares caught an errant stick from Jordan Staal to draw a power play at 8:30. Right off the draw, Anders Lee fed Bailey for a slapper past Cam Ward and the Isles were even.
They outshot the Hurricanes 11-2 in the third and didn’t let up with the game tied. The Isles got another power play on a delay of game call with 47.3 seconds left in the third that carried over to OT. But the 1:13 of 4-on-3 time produced only one shot on Ward.
“It’s not as simple as it might sound,” said Lee, who tipped home Dennis Seidenberg’s shot in the first for his 18th. “They set up in a diamond and there’s a reason they’re the best PK in the league. We needed to get more than one shot.”
And, much like Friday’s late goal that banked off two Islanders and in, some bad luck figured in Saturday’s deciding goal. Tavares’ stick snapped as he lost the draw so he was reduced to tailing Justin Faulk around the Isles zone. Faulk set up Hainsey for a blast that eluded Berube, who said he wasn’t sharp enough on a night he faced only 25 shots.
“You see 10 goals on 50 shots and think it’s bad (goaltending),” Weight said. “We didn’t give up a lot either night, just a lot of good chances. We have to play better in front of both our guys.”
Notes & quotes: Cal Clutterbuck suffered a different lower-body injury on Friday than the one that kept him out of four of the previous seven games, Weight said, so he may be shut down for a few days. Shane Prince played in Clutterbuck’s spot and had an assist on Casey Cizikas’ second-period goal.
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