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Islanders mired in a slump at the worst possible time

The Islanders, seeking their first playoff berth since 2016, are jockeying with the Penguins for second in the Metropolitan Division.

Robin Lehner of theIslanders looks on after surrendering

Robin Lehner of theIslanders looks on after surrendering a second-period goal against the Bruins at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The issue is the timing more than the slump itself. All NHL teams go through ups and downs in an 82-game season. But the Islanders are trending downward at the exact wrong time.

When they begin a weekend back-to-back set in Philadelphia at 1 p.m. Saturday, they will be coming off the franchise’s first back-to-back shutout losses since Nov. 19-21, 2011. They played marginally better in Thursday night’s 4-0 loss in Montreal — limiting most of the damage to a three-goal letdown in the first 8:19 of the second period — than they did in a 5-0 loss to the Bruins on Tuesday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

The Isles, who did not practice Friday, also looked bad in a pair of losses to the Flyers at the Coliseum earlier this month: 4-1 on March 3 and 5-2 six days later.

“You talk about how important the next game is after a loss,” defenseman Thomas Hickey said. “Thankfully, there’s a lot of hockey left here. We get another chance in Philadelphia. We’re disappointed in ourselves. We’ve got to turn it around quick.”

The Islanders, who will face the Coyotes at the Coliseum at 3 p.m. Sunday, have lost three of four and didn’t play particularly well in Sunday’s 3-2 win in Minnesota.

They have gone 7-8-1 in their last 16 games and have scored 10 goals in their last seven. The power play has produced one goal in 31 opportunities in the last 14 games.

“You’re going to go through stretches like that and have adversity throughout the year,” forward Andrew Ladd said. “We’ve got to stick together and find a way out of it. I think we’re confident as a group we can get it going the other way.”

The Islanders, who have eight games left in the regular season and are seeking their first playoff berth since 2016, are jockeying with the Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round. Both have 91 points. The Penguins, who have played one extra game, will play the Stars in Dallas on Saturday.

“It’s not ideal,” center Casey Cizikas said. “But you can do a lot in eight games.”

Not with the forwards struggling to produce and depth at center an issue with Valtteri Filppula (left shoulder) out for four weeks.

Jordan Eberle has one goal in 20 games. Josh Bailey has gone 12 games without a goal and eight games without a point. Mathew Barzal has gone 16 games without a goal.

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