The details are starting to not matter anymore. It’s only the results now for the Islanders, who have entered the third period tied in their last three games and come away with zero points in sinking back to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
On Thursday night, it was the penalty kill and a late turnover by Dennis Seidenberg that led to Richard Panik’s goal with 6:13 to play in a 5-4 loss to the Blackhawks at Barclays Center.
The Islanders had a strong enough game at even strength, pumping in four goals on a good Chicago squad, but the Blackhawks went 3-for-3 on the power play, and tie games entering the third period have been death to the Islanders this season.
“It seems like every game, something new pops up to bite us,” Johnny Boychuk said. “It’s time to stop the excuses and be good for 60 minutes.”
The Isles grabbed a 2-0 lead just 3:48 in on goals by Andrew Ladd and Casey Cizikas. By the 14:08 mark, it was 3-2 Chicago, with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov scoring power-play goals and Marian Hossa, alone in front, scoring off a turnover.
Ryan Strome brought the Islanders even on a deflected shot at 15:20 and Anders Lee’s deflection put the Islanders back in front just 24 seconds into the second period. The Isles controlled most of the middle period, outshooting the Blackhawks 14-7, but Scott Darling kept Chicago in it and Panarin’s second power-play goal — a nearly identical one-time blast from the left faceoff dot — tied it again with 18.7 seconds to go in the second.
“They pretty much scored the same goal three times,” Travis Hamonic said. “It’s no secret to what they do.”
That’s six power-play goals allowed in the last three games by the Islanders, who had allowed two power-play goals in their previous 12 games.
The last three games also had another theme.
The Islanders were 2-2 in Columbus entering the third period on Saturday before an early turnover opened the floodgates to a 6-2 loss. On Tuesday at Barclays Center, they were tied 2-2 with the Capitals entering the third before another turnover led to a quick deficit and a 4-2 loss.
On Thursday night, the Islanders let the tie game drag into the final six-plus minutes before the turnover-and-conversion game. Seidenberg was hounded by Marcus Kruger behind the Isles’ net and Dennis Rasmussen jumped in to quickly move the puck into the slot, where Panik swept it past Thomas Greiss.
“Sure it’s frustrating,” Greiss said. “It’s not like we’re playing bad. We’re scoring some goals, we’re in the games. We’ve got to fight through it.”
The Islanders’ 5-0-1 run to get out of the Eastern Conference basement is long gone. They headed to Buffalo late Thursday night firmly entrenched in last place again, having won only four of 13 games (4-6-3) when tied after two periods.
It’s fair to wonder if there’s any fight left in a team that has done some good but nowhere near enough.
“It’s probably one of the better starts we’ve had,” Hamonic said. “Middle of the third, it’s not OT, but we kinda felt like next goal wins it. We didn’t get it.”