EDMONTON, Alberta — The Islanders didn’t respond to one of their poorer outings with one of their better ones, nor did they make a convincing argument to management that this squad can navigate the playoff race without help before Monday’s trade deadline.
“Definitely, this is not our hockey,” goalie Robin Lehner said after the Islanders’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Oilers on Thursday night. “This is definitely not how we play. We cannot get too frustrated because we’re having a good season. We’re playing well. But we’ve got to recognize that the last few games, we’re starting to get away from the things that make us successful.”
Connor McDavid scored at 1:22 of overtime for the Oilers, who had tied it at 3-3 with 2:52 left in regulation.
This followed Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss at Calgary in which Barry Trotz graded his team’s effort as an F and bemoaned the Isles’ inability to effectively exit their zone or establish puck possession up ice.
“After a slow, sloppy start, I liked our response,” Trotz said after the Islanders fell behind 2-0 on Sam Gagner’s goal at 6:30 of the first period yet led 3-2 at the first intermission on two power-play goals in the final 38.2 seconds. “Then I just thought we sat back too much. We’re not as detailed right now. On the winning goal, we had a lot of ‘almost’ there, not that full commitment that you need.”
The Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders (35-18-7) saw their lead slip to two points after the second-place Capitals won, 3-2, at Toronto.
The Islanders are 9-0-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets. They still have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Dec. 4-6.
The Islanders were hemmed in their defensive zone for long stretches, particularly in a third period in which they were outshot 17-6.
Pressuring throughout the third period, the Oilers finally tied it at 3-3 at 17:08 as defenseman Oscar Klefbom got to the crease.
“Today was up there for me,” said Lehner, who made 37 saves. “It was probably one of the hardest games I’ve had this year. It felt like they were in our zone for the whole game. Even in the second period, they didn’t have a lot of shots [eight] but they were in our zone the whole time, just circling, circling, circling.”
The Oilers (25-29-6) snapped a five-game losing streak. Former Islanders prospect Mikko Koskinen stopped 20 shots and didn’t make his first save of the third period until 9:34.
In the first period, Leon Draisaitl, with a perfect power-play feed from McDavid to the right post, made it 1-0 at 5:12 and Gagner, taking a backhanded feed from Tobias Rieder on the rush, made it 2-0 at 6:30.
Anders Lee knocked in his own rebound at the right post to cut the Islanders’ deficit to 2-1 at 12:57.
McDavid threw his forearm into defenseman Nick Leddy’s head at 17:38 — no doubt a play the NHL Department of Player Safety will review — and the Islanders went on a five-on-three advantage at 18:26 as Kris Russell slashed Lee and Lee and defenseman Darnell Nurse exchanged a high stick and a cross check.
Brock Nelson’s one-timer from the right circle off Jordan Eberle’s feed tied the score at 2 with 38.2 seconds to go. Cal Clutterbuck gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead with 10.3 seconds left as he redirected Ryan Pulock’s feed with the Islanders skating five-on-four.