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Islanders shut out by Maple Leafs at UBS Arena as slump continues

Islanders center Mathew Barzal defends the puck against

Islanders center Mathew Barzal defends the puck against Maple Leafs center Alexander Kerfoot in the second period of an NHL game at UBS Arena on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The NHL standings don’t care about the Islanders’ depleted roster.

"Put it this way, it hasn’t been easy," coach Barry Trotz said. "We’re not looking for excuses. We get it. We’re just trying to win a hockey game."

It’s six losses in a row now for the Islanders, again forced to dress a makeshift lineup Sunday night because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The $1.1 billion UBS Arena, in just its second game, became a quiet state-of-the-art facility for long stretches of the Maple Leafs’ 3-0 win before a sellout crowd of 17,255. Or, worse, there were boos.

The last-place Islanders (5-8-2), coming off back-to-back trips to the NHL semifinals, are 13 points out of a guaranteed playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and seven points out of the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot.

Sure, it’s early in the season, but the Islanders have to start winning to be a playoff contender.

"I wouldn’t say there’s a sense of panic," Matt Martin said. "But there should be a sense of urgency. We know we’re a good hockey club. We’ve proven that. We’ve got to continue to chip away. The last couple of nights, our effort has been there with a lot of regulars out of the lineup."

Toronto’s Joseph Woll, 23, in his second career start, made 20 saves for his first shutout as the Islanders were blanked for the second time this season. Ilya Sorokin stopped 37 shots.

The Islanders played the last two periods without second-line center Brock Nelson because of a lower-body injury. Nelson scored both goals in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Flames in the UBS Arena opener.

The Islanders again had six players in COVID-19 protocol, with Kieffer Bellows joining Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Ross Johnston and defensemen Adam Pelech and Andy Greene.

Rookie defensemen Robin Salo and Grant Hutton and forwards Richard Panik and Andy Andreoff remained in the lineup after being called up from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

The Islanders did learn about three hours before the game that Anthony Beauvillier was available after a false positive on Saturday. He missed Saturday’s loss as a result.

"A stressful 24 hours," Beauvillier said. "Opening night, missing that is disappointing. Got a couple of tests in today and I was happy to join the team today."

Yet here’s a small snippet of how the Islanders’ luck has run lately.

Just over a minute into the third period, Zach Parise sprung Beauvillier with a chance to tie the score, but the puck rolled off Beauvillier’s stick as he approached the crease. Ondrej Kase quickly made it 2-0 at 2:00.

"It seems when we think we’re going to get something going our way, it hasn’t been," Trotz said. "We needed something to jump on. Beau had an opportunity. We get a breakaway. If we score there, maybe we get a little energy."

The Islanders will continue their four-game homestand against the Rangers on Wednesday night.

"The mindset is what you’ve got to do to prepare to win a hockey game," said defenseman Scott Mayfield, who played in his 300th NHL game. "We do everything we can to keep ourselves safe. At the end of the day, when you get to the rink, it’s to win hockey games. That’s what we’re paid to do."

The Islanders gave up their third shorthanded goal in eight games — they have only one power-play goal in that stretch — as the Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead at 3:31 of the first period on Mitch Marner’s breakaway with the Islanders skating four-on-three.

Marner’s redirection made it 3-0 at 13:29 of the third period.


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