VANCOUVER, British Columbia - One mistake-filled game can be overlooked, especially the way the Islanders have played for the majority of this season.
Two is concerning, especially in a row. And the Islanders, fresh off a night of gift goals in Edmonton, handed out more easy ones Tuesday night and couldn't recover in a 3-2 loss to the Canucks.
"Same thing," Jack Capuano said of Sunday's error-filled 5-2 loss to the lowly Oilers. "You can't manage the puck like that and expect to win."
All three Canucks goals came directly off turnovers and the sloppy Islanders tossed in a pair of too-many-men penalties.
Kyle Okposo fed Mikhail Grabovski off a turnover to pull the Islanders within a goal with 5:27 to play and the Isles pressed hard for the tie, to no avail. Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack made 21 saves; the Isles allowed only 20 shots on Jaroslav Halak, three in the final period.
"I thought they were the better team in the second period and they got two goals there to make a difference," Halak said. "We just got to play better, that's the bottom line."
Sunday's game was painful, given the Oilers' disarray and the Isles' self-inflicted wounds. The Canucks are a more formidable team, and yet the Isles could have controlled this game if not for the giveaways.
Matt Martin put the Islanders up at 9:38 of the first, redirecting a terrific feed from Travis Hamonic. But the costly plays began soon after, with Brock Nelson attempting a behind-the-back reverse play to try and get the puck going out of his end.
That pass went right to Brad Richardson, whose initial try Halak stopped. Ryan Stanton pounced on the rebound to tie the score after one.
Thomas Hickey's turnovers led to both Canucks goals in the second. The first was an attempted outlet pass that went through a bunched-up Isles forward group and right to Kevin Bieksa. Halak stopped his point shot but Nick Bonino tucked in the rebound at 8:01.
Later in the period, Hickey led a three-on-two and again his pass seemed wise, but eluded two Islanders. Derek Dorsett sprung Linden Vey for a breakaway and a goal between Halak's pads at 17:36.
"There's got to be a higher standard of play and it starts with myself," said Hickey, who was paired with Matt Donovan as Hickey's usual partner, Lubomir Visnovsky, is out with an upper-body injury. "This isn't the type of hockey we've been playing. We have to move as a group of five out there. It's what makes us good."
The Islanders have given themselves enough of a cushion that two clunkers will not cause panic. They fly home on Wednesday still tied with the Penguins atop the Metro Division, 13 games over .500. But divisional games with the Devils, Blue Jackets and Rangers, all on the road, loom in the next week and the Islanders have to catch themselves before their rivals begin to nip at their heels.
"We have to regroup," Okposo said. "This is the tough part of our schedule, three big divisional games coming up. We have to right the ship."