By Katie Strang
During Friday’s 5-2 win over Buffalo, the Islanders looked hell-bent on shedding their habit of sluggish starts.
But just one game after they cruised to victory over the Sabres, they struggled again to buck the troublesome trend, giving up a goal in the first 15 seconds en route to a 5-3 loss at Nassau Coliseum.
On the game’s first shift, Paul Gaustad scored on a rebound to give the Sabes a 1-0 lead at 19:45, lifting the puck over goaltender Rick DiPietro’s left pad.
It was the ninth time in ten games the Islanders have given up the game’s first goal.
“It’s uncalled for, obviously, to start the game like that,” coach Jack Capuano said after the game.
Capuano said he was not pleased with the effort level of his starters—defensemen Jack Hillen and Radek Martinek and forwards Blake Comeau, Rob Schremp and Josh Bailey.
“The five guys that were sent out to start the game, their compete level was down,” Capuano said. “They beat us off the wall and we weren’t strong on our sticks that first goal.”
Hillen, who scored in his second straight game to pull the Islanders within a goal late in the third, said the whole unit was culpable for the early hole.
“It’s tough to give up a goal 15 seconds into the game,” Hillen said. “I’ll take responsibility for that one, every guy on the ice will take responsibility for that. I don’t know if that was the difference, but it certainly hurts.”
It certainly does. The Islanders are 4-22-4 when trailing 1-0 this season.
Matt Moulson notched two goals in the second frame to tie the game, but Nathan Gerbe tallied on the power-play goal in the third and Tyler Myers reviewed goal gave the Sabres a comfortable 4-2 lead.
Jason Pominville added an empty-netter with less than 24 seconds to play.
“Tough loss. Slow start, which was not good," said John Tavares, who picked up assists on both of Moulson’s goals. "We bounced back in the second period, but just weren’t good enough in the third,”