Another late goal surrendered, another point lost for the Islanders.
For the fifth time in 11 games this season, they allowed a goal in the final three minutes of the third period that either broke a tie or tied the score. Thursday night’s late tying score and resulting 3-2 shootout loss to the Flyers left the Islanders 4-6-1 this season and searching for offense and answers.
“These are the games we’ve got to win,” said Casey Cizikas, whose accidental high stick clipped Claude Giroux in the throat with 2:45 remaining in the third period and the Islanders holding on to a 2-1 lead.
With the man advantage and the net empty, the Flyers tied the score with 57.1 seconds left. Matt Read jammed the puck home after Mark Streit’s point shot caromed hard off the end boards and back out front.
Jaroslav Halak got the Islanders to a shootout, making six saves in overtime among his 40 for the game, but Giroux scored the only goal for either side in the shootout.
John Tavares’ final attempt to prolong the shootout ended meekly, with Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth poking the puck off Tavares’ stick.
The Isles dropped to 1-3-1 in their last five games, four of which were at Barclays Center.
The Islanders were sluggish out of the gate against a Flyers team that played the night before, giving up eight of the first nine shots of the game.
“It was concerning the way a few guys came out, I won’t lie to you,” coach Jack Capuano said. “We have some decisions to make going forward.”
After another weak start to the second period, with the Flyers breaking up numerous passes, the Islanders fell behind when rookie Travis Konecny beat Halak on a rebound of his own breakaway try at 11:11.
The Isles had a five-on-three advantage in the final minutes of the period, but Capuano didn’t see much from his top players. He put Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck out with Tavares, and it was Cizikas who fed the captain for a tap-in goal with 28.5 seconds left that tied it.
The Islanders did start the third period stronger and, after being the team to surrender a late goal in a tie game three times in the previous six games, the home side appeared to break through. Dennis Seidenberg’s changeup fooled Neuvirth and put the Isles on top with 7:05 to go. It was Seidenberg’s fourth goal of the season.
But Cizikas’ errant stick changed the game. It was a correct call but one made all the more frustrating after Clutterbuck lost several teeth to Sean Couturier’s high stick late in the first that spattered blood on the ice and somehow eluded all four officials.
Capuano said the blown lead wasn’t as concerning as the lack of offense. Tavares and Seidenberg have totaled nine goals. The rest of the team has 21.
“We got a power-play goal with Casey and Clutter out there and one from Seidenberg. That’s my concern,” Capuano said. “We took 134 points out of our lineup [in free agency] and we need to find a way to get some offense. That’s my concern.”