So far, this road trip has not gone as planned.
Unlike the team’s last hike—a trip out West that launched them into an impressive roll earlier this month—the Islanders have lost all three games since leaving New York.
After being blanked 2-0 by Florida yesterday at BankAtlantic Center in Tomas Vokoun’s seventh shutout this season, the Islanders also suffered their fifth straight loss and sixth defeat in the past seven games.
In the last five games the Islanders have been outscored 19-6, although it has not been from a dearth of scoring chances—the team has averaged 29 shots a game during that span.
“You have to score goals, that’s all you can do,” coach Scott Gordon said. “There’s no other way around that.”
The lack of offense, or rather finishing power, has been a glaring issue on the power-play as well; the team has not scored with the man-advantage in 10 opportunities over the last three games.
Gordon said although the team is struggling, they are not far removed from being on the other side of the standings.
“It wasn’t that long ago that we went on a big streak,” Blake Comeau said. “The good thing about things being so tight in the standings is that we’re only three or four wins away from getting back.”
Despite outshooting the Panthers 15-6 in the first period, the Islanders found themselves down a goal after Jordan Leopold tallied on the power play.
32 seconds into the Islanders first power play of the game after Gregory Campbell was whistled for high-sticking, Kyle Okposo took a high-sticking call of his own. Once 4-on-4 play ended and Florida had the man-advantage, the Panthers scored their first power-play goal in three games with Leopold’s wrister from the right circle at 15:45.
David Booth, who played in his first game since suffering a concussion more than three months ago on October 24, picked up an assist on the play.
The Panthers hoarded the scoring opportunities with 14 shots against Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro in the second and scored with 9.6 seconds left in the period.
Keith Ballard had an easy shot from the left circle to give the Panthers a 2-goal lead as the recipient of a cross-ice, tape-to-tape pass from Cory Stillman.
In his sixth start of the season, DiPietro turned away 23 of Florida’s 25 shots but received no run support.
“It’s got to be tough for them,” said Matt Moulson of the team’s goaltenders. “They could let in only one or two goals, and it’s a loss for them because we don’t score
Defenseman Freddy Meyer almost cut the Panthers’ lead in half as he made a diving attempt to tap in the puck with his outstretched stick after being taken down by Shawn Matthias at 3:08 in the third.
However, Meyer slid into the net unhinging the goal from its moorings as the puck slid past the goal line; after video review the original no-goal call was upheld.
With Matthias in the box for tripping Meyer, the Islanders received their first of three power-plays in the third period.
But without an abundance of “natural killer instinct,” Gordon said, the ineffective unit’s woes continued.
“There’s not time to pout,” said DiPietro, “We’re confident. When we put it all together we’re a hard team to play against. It’s up to us to be consistent and focused. We don’t have to play a perfect sixty minutes, but we have to be pretty close.”