Frustration oozed from the Islanders' dressing room Friday, with good reason. The talent that's most responsible for a team's success -- the ability to score goals -- has eluded the Islanders, leading to a string of losses.
They didn't score again Friday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum, shut out for the third time in four games. This time they fell to the Devils, 1-0, for their fourth straight defeat.
"The one disappointing thing for me," coach Jack Capuano said, "is that we had opportunities to get pucks and bodies to the net on our odd-man rushes and we were a little too cute."
By "a little too cute," Capuano meant that his players were not active enough on the offensive end, content to play the sidelines and pass the puck instead of firing away, rushing the net and looking to capitalize on rebounds, deflections and anything else that might fall their way.
Making the loss all the more frustrating was that the Devils' only goal was a bit of a fluke.
With New Jersey on the power play toward the end of the second period, Adam Larsson flubbed a shot from the blue line, breaking his stick and hitting a dribbler. But the puck went right to Petr Sykora, who had a clear look at the net and fired a shot past Islanders goaltender Al Montoya's upper right side with 5:47 remaining in the second period.
The chances of the Islanders winning on this day immediately dropped significantly; they are 1-10-2 when the other team scores first.
"You can say what you want about their broken stick, that it was an unlucky bounce for us," Capuano said. "But it started with a shot."
Montoya, who had not played in the previous six games, made 22 saves.
The Islanders felt they played well enough to produce sufficient scoring opportunities Friday, only to see those chances fall flat time and again.
They were on the power play for six minutes in the first period but failed to take advantage. Winger Michael Grabner wondered if the team played tight as a result of those early missed chances.
"I don't know what we've got to do except find a way to get one by," he said. "Especially when we don't get one early, it just seems like we're getting a little tight and we try too hard to get it in. It just doesn't seem to work."
Grabner had the best chance of all when he was awarded a penalty shot with 7:10 remaining in the game. He raced down the left side of the ice, faked once and then tried to wrap a shot around the back side of Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg, only to get stuffed.
Now the Islanders face the Devils in New Jersey on Saturday in the second half of their back-to-back series, not to mention their fourth game in six days. They want a win, but first things first. They want to score a goal. During the Islanders' four-game losing streak, they have been outscored 16-3.
"I feel for a long period of time, we were the better team," captain Mark Streit said. "We just couldn't score."