Playing with a man advantage proved no advantage for the Islanders on Sunday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference final series against Tampa Bay.
Down a goal midway in the second period, they needed their power play to come through for them when it got the chance. Then, down two goals late in the third, they needed it even more.
But when the Islanders needed their power play to produce in a couple of critical times, it couldn’t. And now they face elimination for the second time in the playoffs after losing to the Lightning, 4-1, in Edmonton to fall behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is on Tuesday.
The killer for the Islanders in Game 4 was a 27-second span midway through the second period immediately after Brock Nelson opened the scoring at 11:27 of the period.
Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman shocked the Islanders by tying the score 15 seconds later, and things got worse when Ondrej Palat gave Tampa Bay the lead 12 seconds after that.
Barry Trotz deflected criticism of the Islanders’ power play, preferring to point to the sequence in which they allowed Coleman and Palat to score so quickly after Nelson’s goal as the key to the game.
"I think for the most part, we’ve been keeping fairly even [on special-teams play],’’ Trotz said. "Take the first game [an 8-2 loss] out, I think we’ve been pretty close to even against a very good power play. Today, they didn’t get one, we didn’t get one, so the game was [decided by] five-on-five. In a 27-second span they had two quick goals, and our response after our goal was not good and put us in a hole.’’
But the Islanders had chances to get back in the game.
Former Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk took a penalty at 13:06 of the second period for shooting the puck over the glass, giving the Islanders their second power play of the game. They managed just one shot on goal with the man advantage, however, before Mathew Barzal negated the power play when he took a holding-the-stick penalty with 17 seconds left in Shattenkirk’s penalty.
Then, after Brayden Point’s goal early in the third period put Tampa Bay up 3-1, the Islanders got another chance on the power play when Palat was sent off for hooking Nelson at 13:52. They got three shots on goal on that one but couldn’t get anything past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Islanders went 0-for-3 on the power play Sunday and are 1-for-14 with the man advantage in the series, including a 2-1 loss in Game 2, when they went 0-for-4 and failed on a five-minute major and a 38-second five-on-three.
"I think we’ve had a couple chances,’’ defenseman Nick Leddy said when asked about the power play’s futility. "Capitalizing on them is one thing. I know for me, I’ve got to be better at getting pucks to the net, getting pucks through. I think we’ve all just got to be a little better. It starts with us, and we can create a lot of momentum for our team and we need to start doing that.’’