It took nearly 47 minutes, but the Islanders finally showed some life. Unfortunately for Jack Capuano's club, the effort was far too late.
Despite two goals in 35 seconds of the third period -- one by Michael Grabner and another by John Tavares -- the Islanders again lost in crushing fashion, this time to the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov blanked them for much of the night, setting the Flyers' record for consecutive shutout minutes (249:43) in the process. That broke the mark of John Vanbiesbrouck (227:40) set in 1999.
But his streak was snapped at 13:30 of the third period when Grabner scored on a deflection to cut the Isles' deficit to 3-1. Tavares netted his career-high 31st goal at 14:05, slicing the puck just to the right of Bryzgalov.
The Islanders (28-31-11) are inching closer to mathematically eliminating themselves from playoff contention. Players had been optimistic during Thursday's morning skate. But frustration filled their locker room after Thursday night's loss.
"We've got to find a way to turn it around and start playing our hockey again and doing what we've been doing," Tavares said.
Asked why the team has been unable to put together 60 minutes of spirited play, Tavares was at a loss: "I wish we knew. We talked about it. It's unacceptable for our group not to come out and play each and every game, a 60 full minutes, compete hard and see what happens for ourselves. When we do that, we make it difficult on teams . . . But sometimes there are too many breakdowns and too many lapses that are costing us."
After the morning skate, Tavares talked about the importance of getting second and third scoring chances against Bryzgalov. To have any shot against the Flyers, the Islanders would need to score early and often.
But it was the Flyers -- winners of seven of the last eight -- who struck first, catching the Islanders and goalie Evgeni Nabokov off-guard with two quick scores in the first period.
Zac Rinaldo scored from the left- wing corner at 8:41. Nabokov stood looking around him as if to signal he never saw the puck fly in.
Less than five minutes later, the Flyers caught the defense sleeping again. Claude Giroux scored on assists from Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell at 13:26 to make it 2-0. Hartnell's breakaway goal, fired into the upper right corner over Nabokov's outstretched glove, made it 3-0 at 7:02 of the second.
Right wing P.A. Parenteau returned to the Islanders' lineup after missing Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury and Marty Reasoner and Steve Staios were healthy scratches. But the line changes had little effect. The Islanders squandered two power-play chances in the second period.
"We gave them two gifts," said Capuano, who kept his postgame news conference to less than a minute, said of the early goals.
"If I had the answer, I'd be a genius," Parenteau said, referring to the team's inconsistency. "We can't sustain pressure for 60 minutes and sometimes we just fade away for 10, 15 minutes."
And the Islanders are fading away, now tied for last with Montreal in the Eastern Conference.