After surrendering two power-play goals for the fourth time in their last six games and getting no offensive support behind John Tavares' line, the Islanders lost for the third time in four games, falling to the Senators, 5-2. That sends the Islanders into Monday's deadline in 13th place in the East, eight points and four teams away from eighth.
It's not a good position to be in, and it could alter general manager Garth Snow's approach to the 3 p.m. deadline. Even if he stands pat -- as it appears he will -- Snow's team didn't have enough urgency to expand upon an early 1-0 lead or enough firepower to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the third.
"They should be dejected," Jack Capuano said of his team. "Some guys showed that desperation we needed. But some guys should take a look in the mirror and know they could've worked harder tonight."
Capuano didn't name names, but he didn't have to: Kyle Okposo was a minus-3 and passed up a glorious chance to tie the score in the final eight minutes. Michael Grabner was a minus-2 and played only a handful of shifts in the third period. Those two forwards signed five-year contracts in the offseason, but Okposo has one goal in the last 13 games and Grabner has one goal in the last 17.
"We've got to be better. I've got to be better," said Okposo, who had a chance to shoot after David Ullstrom intercepted a clearing pass and turned it back for a two-on-one with the Isles down 3-2. Okposo held it and held it, then passed it back to Mark Streit, who snapped his stick in half trying to shoot.
"I've got to shoot the puck there. Got to," said Okposo, who has only seven shots on goal in his last six games. "It's frustrating. We're doing some good things out there."
He mostly meant Tavares' line. Travis Hamonic forced a turnover at the Islanders' blue line and turned a three-on-one the other way that Tavares finished on a feed from P.A. Parenteau just 49 seconds in, giving the Isles a quick lead.
Marty Reasoner, who has no goals in 42 games this season, was stopped on a breakaway later in the first by rookie Robin Lehner (28 saves), and the Isles recorded the first 11 shots on goal in the game.
But their penalty-kill, once ranked in the top six in the league, broke down again in the second. The first unit failed on a clearing attempt and was trapped in its own zone for more than a minute before Milan Michalek swept a backhand through Nabokov's legs to tie it at 12:21 of the second. At 16:22, Jason Spezza rifled a shot past a statue-like Milan Jurcina and over Nabokov, marking the fourth time in six games the Isles have allowed two power-play goals in a game. It had happened twice in the first 56 games.
"I can't really say what's been happening there," Frans Nielsen said. "We've got to get in the shooting lanes, be hungrier to the loose pucks and get them out when we have a chance. Get back to basics."
The Islanders flew to Washington Sunday night, some wondering what the final hours before the trade deadline will bring. They also could think about how their own mistakes made this deadline a little more uncertain than it might have been.