It’s definitely bad when this is how Islanders coach Lane Lambert and his players described their latest third-period meltdown.
“We had the game under control with eight and a half minutes left,” a clearly agitated Lambert said. “To lose that hockey game is sin.”
The Sharks, who had the fewest points in the NHL entering the game, rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period with two goals skating six-on-five as Tomas Hertl completed a hat trick. Then, they finished off the 5-4 overtime win at UBS Arena on Tuesday night on William Eklund’s goal with five seconds left in the three-on-three period.
The Islanders (10-7-7) opened a season-high, six-game homestand with their 10th blown third-period lead of the season.
“It’s unacceptable,” Brock Nelson said. “That’s pretty much all that needs to be said, really. We should be putting two points in the bank and moving on.”
“Yeah, it’s completely unacceptable,” Lambert said. “It’s happened too many times. It just has to stop. That’s it. Bottom line.”
The shame for the Islanders is, for 50 or so minutes, they did so many good things. They were 2-for-3 on the power play and defenseman Mike Reilly added a shorthanded goal as the Islanders’ penalty kill was 2-for-2.
It marked the fourth straight game the Islanders have scored on the man advantage.
But turnovers down the stretch negated the good as the Islanders fell to 1-5 in overtime. Ilya Sorokin stopped 31 shots for the hard-luck loss.
“We didn’t manage the game well,” said defenseman Noah Dobson, who hit the crossbar with 21 seconds left in overtime. “They scored one and we kind of got on our heels a bit. They took advantage of it. Obviously not good enough.”
“What happened was too many turnovers in those situations,” Lambert said. “We’ve got to do a better job of managing the puck, taking care of the puck and getting the job done.”
Kaapo Kahkonen made 35 saves for the Sharks (7-17-2), who started their six-game road trip without a road win but have now beaten the Devils and Islanders.
Defenseman Ryan Pulock’s one-timer from the left off Reilly’s feed gave the Islanders a 4-1 lead at 8:27 of the third period.
The Sharks then came within 4-2 as Kevin Labanc deflected defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk’s shot at 11:55 of the third. Hertl’s second goal with Kahkonen pulled for an extra skater brought the Sharks with 4-3 at 16:49. He tied it at 4-4, again with the Sharks skating six-on-five, at 18:30.
“We were comfortable where we were at going into the third, playing fast and getting some chances,” said Reilly, who played his sixth game for the Islanders after being claimed off waivers from the Panthers. “You think you have the game wrapped up there and then a break or two ends up in the back of your net. Very frustrating. I know I haven’t been here long but you can tell the guys care and want to fix these types of problems.”
Reilly’s shorthanded blast from the top of the left circle had given the Islanders a 3-1 lead at 5:17 of the third.
Dobson set up Nelson’s blistering power-play wrister from the right circle just inside the far post at 5:27 of the second period as the Islanders regained a 2-1 lead. They spent long stretches in the middle frame pressuring the Sharks’ crease.
Julien Gauthier’s second goal as an Islander, a hard wrister from the left, opened the scoring at 9:28 of the first period before Hertl tied it at 1-1 at 12:19 of the first period.