Before passing the stuffing and gobbling up some holiday turkey, the Islanders should be giving thanks to those fans who haven't yet deserted the team in wake of their mind-boggling 14-game winless streak.
Only 8,652 came to watch the team's 4-3 overtime loss to Columbus last night, which brought them within one game of the franchise record winless streak (15 games, 1972-73).
The Islanders earned a point in their second straight game but couldn't prevail in overtime. Jakub Voracek snapped a 3-3 draw, burying a rebound with 2:29 left to play in the overtime period.
'We've been sick of this ever since it started, " said John Tavares who scored his eighth goal of the season last night.
The Islanders and Blue Jackets swapped leads two times last night before Voracek's game-winner in overtime.
Shortly after Trevor Gillies ignited the sparse crowd by pummeling Jared Boll for his hit on John Tavares, Trent Hunter scored a short-side goal--his first of the season--to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 10:16 in the first.
Later in the first, Columbus quickly turned the game around when awarded with 1:54 of 5-on-3 power play time (conversely, the Islanders are 0-for-26 on the power-play over the last seven games).
Six seconds after Matt Martin went to the box for boarding, Zenon Konopka took an unwise penalty for trying to smother the puck off the draw. Antoine Vermette tallied on the power-play to tie the game at 13:48. Chris Clark buried a deflected shot 2:10 later for a 2-1 Blue Jackets lead at 15:58.
The Islanders answered with two goals in the first 2:24 of the second period, but failed to hold the lead for long.
Following Michael Grabner’s backhanded equalizer 51 seconds into play and Tavares’ go-ahead goal 1:33 later, RJ Umberger buried a rebound to pull the Blue Jackets even at 6:46.
The Islanders latest loss came on the heels of a surprising demotion to one of the team’s prized youngsters Josh Bailey, who was assigned on loan to Bridgeport yesterday.
After a streaking start to the season, Bailey was held off the scoresheet in 13 straight games since returning from a hip pointer injury, prompting the Islanders to make the move in hopes that Bailey regains some confidence in his game.
“It was the organization’s decision that we all felt it was best that he go down and work on his game and gain as much confidence as he can,” interim head coach Jack Capuano said before the game.
Capuano foreshadowed the assignment Tuesday, when he dropped Bailey (three goals, three assists in 18 games) to the fourth line and said he’d like to see the 21-year-old forward “make harder plays” and be “stronger on the puck.”
Despite the message sent to Bailey—the reverberations of which were likely felt by all of his teammates as well—the organization still expressed confidence in their 2008 first-round pick.
“Josh is still a big part of our future” General Manager Garth Snow said. “This is a great opportunity for Josh to play lots of minutes and regain his confidence.”
Snow said timing also played a factor. Bailey has played 159 NHL games; once a player hits the 160-game threshold, he requires waivers to be sent down.
The Islanders haven't won in well over a month. One of their most highly-touted players was sent down. If that isn't an indication how serious things have gotten, things are about to get worse.
"If it hasn't hit any of us that we're in a hole and we need to get out of it, it's a wake up call," Tavares said."And we've already had a few."