One sequence summed up the Islanders’ inability to finish chances in Friday night’s 3-1 loss to the Oilers at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Zach Parise, getting to the crease, couldn’t convert a two-on-none rush with defenseman Noah Dobson at 3:44 of the second period. Then defenseman Adam Pelech was denied at the net on a two-on-one 24 seconds later.
The Islanders also failed to score on two two-on-none opportunities in Wednesday’s 6-3 win in Vancouver. Coach Barry Trotz said it might be because they don’t disguise their intentions on the odd-man rushes.
"A couple of times we’ve shown pass the whole time," Trotz said. "There wasn’t a lot of deception. That allows a goalie to plant his edge a little bit and be ready for that pass. We could use a little more deception. Or just shoot the puck and if you don’t score, there’s a rebound, you get a second chance."
Semyon Varlamov likely will be the starter on Saturday night in Calgary after Ilya Sorokin started against the Oilers.
With Varlamov still unavailable after missing training camp, Sorokin started back-to-back games on Oct. 23-24 in wins at Arizona and Vegas. Varlamov appeared in back-to-back games when he started a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 15, then came on in relief in the second period of a 6-1 loss at Florida the next day after Sorokin allowed four first-period goals.
The Islanders are 2-5-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Isles were wary of Oilers
The Oilers opened their three-game homestand with back-to-back losses to Vegas and Chicago, which is why Jay Woodcroft and not the fired Dave Tippett was behind their bench against the Islanders.
If anything, that left the Islanders even more wary of the offensively dangerous Oilers, and with good reason.
"It’s a clean slate for the entire team over there and everyone’s looking to make their first impression on the new coach," Matt Martin said. "They’ve got two of the best players in the world [Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl]."
The Oilers, who also have added the talented but troubled Evander Kane, won nine of their first 10 but have played sub-.500 hockey since then.
"You always will have the initial adrenaline because it’s probably put on the players when there is a coaching change," Trotz said. "Usually, that initial game, you’re going to get a lot of energy, a lot of commitment. There’s a responsibility to that group to respond after a coaching change."
Josh Bailey tied Mathew Barzal for the team lead with his 18th assist . . . Defenseman Andy Greene had four of the Islanders’ 16 blocked shots . . . Kyle Palmieri rejoined the team after missing Wednesday’s game as his wife gave birth to their first child. He was a healthy scratch along with Kieffer Bellows and defenseman Sebastian Aho.