Nashville Predators' Nino Niederreiter (22) moves the puck ahead of Islanders'...

Nashville Predators' Nino Niederreiter (22) moves the puck ahead of Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) in the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.  Credit: Mark Humphrey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The problem with constantly trying to mount rallies is that there’s little to no margin for error.

The Islanders were ultimately unable to rally from a three-goal deficit, even as they turned their awful start into a tense third period in a 5-4 loss to the Predators on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.

“After the first 20 [minutes], we played a pretty good hockey game,” captain Anders Lee said. “We put ourselves in position. Sometimes in that hole, you can’t afford any other mistakes.”

For instance, allowing Juuso Parssinen’s power-play goal at 9:52 of the third period – his second goal of the game – to make it 5-3 after defenseman Scott Mayfield had been whistled for tripping Colton Sissons just six seconds earlier.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau again pulled the Islanders within one with a power-play goal at 15:39 off Lee’s between-the-legs feed. But the Islanders couldn’t net the equalizer despite Brock Nelson hitting the crossbar twice in the second period and Mathew Barzal and Mayfield hitting posts in the third period.

“It couldn’t be done this time so it was too deep of a hole this time,” coach Lane Lambert said. “We weren’t sharp out of the gate. If I had the answer, I’d let you know. But we have to be better.”

The Islanders (11-7-0), who have still won nine of their last 12, continue this four-game road stretch on Saturday night against the Stars. They have given up first goal in 12 games yet are a very decent 5-7-0 in those contests.

“The start was an issue,” said Kyle Palmieri, who pulled the Islanders within 4-3 as he got to the low slot off Pageau’s at 4:32 of the third period. “There’s been a couple of starts that have been issues where we kind of put ourselves behind the eight-ball. That’s tough to try and claw back into games all the time.”

It certainly seems like a bad trend.

“I wouldn’t call it a trend,” Lambert said. “It’s happened, though.”

The Islanders had rallied from 3-1 deficits – after the second period – in back to back wins over the Flames (overtime) and Rangers on Nov. 7-8.

The first period was a truly ugly one for the Islanders, and not just because they trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes as they were outshot 18-7, outchanced 26-11 and, per Natural Stat Trick, had no high-danger chances to the Predators’ six.

The Islanders’ play in the defensive zone was as leaky as it has been all season, allowing numerous seam passes to find their way to the crease. Lambert switched all three of his defensive pairs by the end of the period before he eventually went back to his original pairs.

The Predators opened the scoring at 1:03 of the first period as Filip Forsberg was left open to the left of the crease. Defenseman Adam Pelech’s shot from the left circle went in off the stick of Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro to tie it at 1 at 2:43.

But Sissons got to the crease to tip Cole Smith’s feed as the Predators took a 2-1 lead at 8:43. Ex-Islander Nino Niederreiter then notched his team-high eighth goal as his shot from the top of the right circle deflected in off defenseman Noah Dobson’s skate for a 3-1 lead at 9:41.

Parssinen did make it 4-1 at 5:01 of the second period, converting the long rebound to the slot of Forsberg’s initial shot. Cal Clutterbuck deflected Pelech’s shot through traffic to make it 4-2 at 15:41.

Ilya Sorokin made 26 saves for the Islanders while Juuse Saros stopped 29 shots for the Predators (8-8-1), who have won three straight.



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