Islanders lose on L.A.'s second-period blitz
LOS ANGELES — Everything went the Islanders' way off the ice on Tuesday night. But an avoidable penalty kept them from capitalizing on the ice in their playoff race.
“Definitely frustrating, for sure,” Matt Martin said.
The Islanders opened their three-game California swing with a 5-2 loss to the Kings at Crypto.com Arena, spoiling Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s return following a 12-game absence. They allowed two power-play goals within one minute in the second period after Martin was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing Rasmus Kupari’s helmet along the ice following a scrum.
Martin said Kupari threw a punch at Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov, who is wearing a full face shield after fracturing his jaw.
“Romy’s got a face shield on for a reason and the guy punched him in the face, so I went in there and ended up with the extra [penalty],” Martin said. “I was just throwing [the helmet] to the penalty box because I knew people would be going there and he would be one of them. But I didn’t really think anything of it. It wasn’t a show-boaty thing. I didn’t slam it or anything. I never got the explanation, so I don’t know what the call is.”
“I saw him direct his helmet toward the penalty box,” coach Lane Lambert said. “The referees saw it one way and that’s the way it went. I don’t think you can throw somebody’s helmet.”
So now the Islanders (34-27-8) have lost two straight and remained two points behind the Penguins, who have played two fewer games, for the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. The Islanders, holding the second wild-card spot, are three points ahead of the Panthers, who have also played two fewer games.
The Penguins lost to the visiting Canadiens on Tuesday and the Capitals, Senators and Red Wings, all chasing the Islanders, were also defeated.
“I don’t even know,” Lambert said. “We’re so ingrained in what we’re doing. We’re going to have to win. We have to help ourselves. But I haven’t looked at the scores.”
The Islanders, who also lost to the Capitals, 5-1, on Saturday night at UBS Arena, next face the Ducks on Wednesday night.
Ilya Sorokin made 33 saves — Quinton Byfield closed the scoring with an empty-netter — and Joonas Korpisalo stopped 26 shots for the Kings (39-20-9), who are on a 6-0-1 run.
The Kings took control with four goals in the second period.
Martin took his penalty at 4:40 with Kupari and Romanov already heading to the penalty box for roughing.
Then Zach Parise clipped Gabriel Vilardi coming across the Islanders’ blue line at 5:10, giving the Kings a five-on-three advantage. Defenseman Drew Doughty beat Sorokin over the glove with a one-timer to make it 2-1 at 6:06. Alex Iafallo knocked in the rebound of Viktor Arvidsson’s shot off the post to push it to 3-1 at 7:06 with the Kings still skating five on four.
Meanwhile, the Islanders went 0-for-3 on the power play with just two shots. Two of their man advantages came in the third period as they trailed by two.
“I didn’t think our power play was very good in the third period,” Lambert said. “We have to be better than that. There’s no way we can accept that.”
Trevor Moore, from the slot, also beat Sorokin up high for a 4-1 lead at 12:14 of the second period.
Pageau tipped defenseman Sebastian Aho’s blue-line shot to make it 4-2 at 17:02 of the second period, two seconds after the Islanders’ first power play expired.
“Yeah, it’s good for the confidence,” Pageau said. “First period, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, you’re always a little bit out of breath. But I found my legs better and better as the game was going on.”
The Kings had more possession time in the first period but the Islanders emerged with a 1-0 lead as Pierre Engvall extended his goal streak to two games. Defenseman Ryan Pulock batted down the puck in the neutral zone and sprung Engvall along the right wall for a hard wrister at 11:45.
Sorokin stopped 14 first-period shots.
But the Kings tied it at 1-1 on their second shot of the second period as Blake Lizotte tipped defenseman Sean Walker’s shot from the left point over Sorokin’s glove.