During Friday's victory over Buffalo, the Islanders looked hell-bent on shedding their habit of sluggish starts.
But just one game after cruising to victory over the Sabres, they again struggled to buck the troublesome trend, giving up a goal 15 seconds into a 5-3 loss to the Sabres at Nassau Coliseum.
"It's uncalled for, obviously, to start the game like that," said coach Jack Capuano, whose team had beaten the Sabres, 5-2, in Buffalo on Friday.
"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 for the 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 after giving up the first goal of a game.
Matt Moulson scored twice in the second period to tie the score, but Nathan Gerbe tallied a power-play goal in the third and Tyler Myers' reviewed goal gave the Sabres a 4-2 lead. Jason Pominville added an empty-netter with 24 seconds to play.
"Tough loss. Slow start, which was not good,'' said John Tavares, who assisted on both of Moulson's goals. "We bounced back in the second period but just weren't good enough in the third."