EDMONTON, Alberta — Garth Snow may have seen some things from his team Sunday night that will make him change his mind about what to do before Monday’s 3 p.m. (Eastern time) trade deadline.
The Islanders’ 3-1 loss to the 30th-place Oilers was a second straight snoozer by their offense. Coupled with a 2-1 overtime win in Calgary, the Isles managed only three goals against two of the worst defenses in the NHL.
“If we’re not getting secondary scoring, we’re not winning many games,” Jack Capuano said after his team lost in regulation when leading after two periods for only the second time this season (23-2-2). “Our power play had a couple chances as well and we didn’t do anything with it.”
Casey Cizikas’ goal with 2:17 left in the second period got the Islanders to the second intermission with a 1-0 lead, though Jaroslav Halak’s 20 saves were the difference through 40 minutes. Capuano furiously juggled his forward lines in the second, hoping for a spark that was absent in the first. The usual Matt Martin-Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck trio produced the only goal, and the higher-skilled forwards went missing for the most part.
With two power plays in the opening minutes of the third period, the Islanders could have put away an Oilers team that is concerned only with who they’ll be moving out on deadline day Monday. But the Isles had only three shots on Cam Talbot (36 saves) during those advantages and Capuano eventually gave Ryan Pulock, making his NHL debut, a shot on the top power-play unit later in the third with the Isles trailing.
“Until we put Pulock there, we were getting nothing,” Capuano said. “It could have been a different game.”
It may be a different team that takes the ice Tuesday night in Vancouver. Snow has been reluctant to part with his first-round pick in the June draft for a rental forward, but he might be less reluctant now after seeing some of his highly regarded forwards play so poorly.
Ryan Strome had a very rough go Sunday night, committing a terrible giveaway in the second that Nail Yakupov nearly snapped past Halak.
“The first two periods weren’t great,” Martin said. “We know we need to be playing better.”
Halak was superb in the previous three games and through two periods Sunday night, but he faltered on all three Oilers goals.
Anton Lander snapped one under Halak’s arm to tie it at 10:12. Then Halak was handcuffed by Taylor Hall’s shot from the side wall, dropped it and was beaten to it by Leon Draisaitl for the winner at 11:07.
Brandon Davidson’s slapper went through Halak at 16:57, but the Islanders’ rally already seemed snuffed by then.
This was the Isles’ final game at Rexall Place and, despite the Oilers’ decade of futility, the Islanders closed out their run here at 0-5-1 in the last six visits to Edmonton. They haven’t won here since a 5-2 victory on March 13, 2003 (Snow made 22 saves).
“We know [losing a lead late] can’t happen, especially this time of year,” said Cizikas, who has eight points in his last eight games. “Not with how close the standings are. We have to come out Tuesday and be way better.”
There could be a couple of new faces around by then.