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Like last season, Islanders struggle to win after trade deadline

Head coach Barry Trotz of the Islanders against

Head coach Barry Trotz of the Islanders against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It’s starting to seem a lot like last season for the Islanders.

No, not the part where they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1993. The post-trade deadline part where they struggled for wins.

The Islanders have lost three of five since acquiring Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the Devils on April 7. That includes getting swept in a two-game series in Boston, 4-1, on Thursday night and 3-0 on Friday night.

They conclude this three-game road trip against the Flyers on Sunday night.

 

"We’re not playing quite our game right now," Matt Martin said. "You’re not going to dominate other teams when they’re playing their best for a full 60 [minutes]. I think we feel better about our game [on Friday] than [Thursday]. We didn’t get the result and we’ve got to find a way to win on Sunday."

There are several ways the Islanders can improve.

A 60-minute effort would certainly help.

But goals have been scarce as they’ve scored one or fewer in three of their last four games and two or fewer in six of their last seven.

The power play went a combined 0-for-8 against the Bruins, who do have the NHL’s top-ranked penalty kill. The Islanders are 1-for-17 on the man advantage over their last six games.

And while coach Barry Trotz was far less displeased with Friday’s performance than Thursday’s dud, he did note defensive mistakes on each of the first two Bruins’ goals. Defenseman Scott Mayfield chased Mike Reilly under the goal line, leaving David Pastrnak open to make it 1-0 with 2.4 seconds left in the first period. Then, Taylor Hall beat Mayfield to the crease to make it 2-0 just 47 seconds into the second period.

"There are a few areas we can still clean up," Martin said. "And then keep building toward our best game. We’re going to need it down the stretch. We’re playing a lot of teams that are either fighting to get into the playoffs or jockeying for position. We’ve got to bring our best game on Sunday. It’s another good opponent."

The losses in Boston dropped the Islanders to 9-11-2 on the road, a stark contrast to their 18-2-2 record at Nassau Coliseum.

"We’ve just got to get better on the road," Trotz said. "We haven’t been as good as on the road as we have been at home, for sure."

Including Sunday, the Islanders have six home games remaining as well as six road games left.

Last season, the Islanders went 0-3-4 after acquiring Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Senators at the trade deadline before the regular season was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It nearly caused the Islanders to miss the playoffs.

"Nothing is settled," said defenseman Andy Greene, also acquired last season prior to the trade deadline. "There’s a lot of games left. It’s a tight race and we’ve got to make sure we take care of our game. When we play the way we’re supposed to, usually, we get the result that we want."

The Islanders are 4-3-2 against the Flyers — eight points of the East Division’s final playoff spot after Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Capitals — heading into the finale of their season series. Five of the games have gone past regulation.

The Islanders are four points behind the first-place Capitals.

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