Even after earning a point in last night's 2-1 shootout loss to St. Louis at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders found themselves 11 points behind the eighth-place Boston Bruins. It's the most points out of a playoff spot they have been all season.
Blues goaltender Chris Mason shut down Frans Nielsen and Matt Moulson in the shootout and the first two St. Louis shooters scored on Martin Biron. T.J. Oshie went five-hole and Brad Boyes picked the top right corner for the Blues' sixth win in seven games.
The Islanders have lost 14 of their last 18 games to essentially remove themselves from playoff contention.
"We've got to find a way to win those one-goal games," Moulson said after the team's fourth consecutive loss.
The Islanders are not getting soundly beaten by any means. They have lost each of the last three games by one goal.
"When it's right there and it just slips away, it might be a little more frustrating," said Moulson, who scored his team-leading 24th goal on the Islanders' first power-play opportunity. His quick strike from the slot gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with 9.4 seconds to play in the first period.
The Blues pulled even on Patrik Berglund's re-directed power-play goal at 6:24 of the second period.
The Islanders were fortunate to reach overtime, killing a penalty after a high-sticking call against Richard Park with 1:40 to play in regulation.
The Islanders, who altered their penalty-killing scheme after the March 4 game against Atlanta, took three penalties in the third, forcing them to rely on their special teams to get them into overtime.
"It's hard when you have just made changes," Biron said. "It's asking a lot mentally and physically."
Physically speaking, the Islanders are not playing at full strength. The buzz word bandied about since the Olympic break has been "depleted."
Since the Islanders returned from the two-week recess, Andrew MacDonald (foot) and Rob Schremp (knee) have suffered season-ending knee injuries, Rick DiPietro was put back on injured reserve with knee swelling, Trent Hunter has been projected to miss up to two weeks with an upper-body injury, and 6-6, 245-pound defenseman Andy Sutton - the team's biggest physical presence - was traded to Ottawa March 2.
"It's just the way it's played out," coach Scott Gordon said before the game. "We were fortunate for most of the year, and if there's a time to have [injuries] - not that there's ever a good time - but it's better in this situation than when we were on the borderline of the playoffs."
The Islanders certainly are not on the borderline of the playoffs anymore.
"At this time last year, when we had all our injuries and were going down the stretch, the games weren't even close," Gordon said. "It's little consolation in that, but our guys are working hard and it's obviously a little bit harder for us."