The margin between winning and losing is razor-thin in the NHL’s world of parity.
And the Islanders did just enough to lose on Wednesday night.
“We made two mistakes on two of their goals,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We’ve got to bear down and do the job. Yeah, it’s frustrating but we can’t get frustrated because we’re doing a lot of good things that are giving us a chance. I don’t know if it’s mental or what it is but we’ve just got to find a way to limit those costly errors.”
The Vegas Golden Knights won, 3-2, before a crowd of 9,182 at Barclays Center as the Islanders lost their second straight and saw their slide worsen to 2-4-2. They’ve scored just 14 goals over their last eight games.
The Islanders (14-12-4) held Vegas to just 17 shots on Robin Lehner and got two assists from Mathew Barzal, who now has four helpers in his last three games. But the Golden Knights (18-14-1) rallied from a 2-1 deficit thanks to two Islanders’ defensive gaffes.
“It is a missed opportunity,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We held a pretty good hockey team, that’s been pretty hot, to 17 shots. You feel you can get a point out of that.”
The start of the third period was delayed 16 minutes with some banks of lights temporarily going off at Barclays Center. Both teams had already come out of their dressing rooms and taken to the ice for warmups when the lights dimmed.
“It’s amateur hour there,” defenseman Thomas Hickey said of the delay.
Lehner, who made 23 saves in Monday night’s 2-1, five-round shootout loss to the Penguins at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, started back-to-back games for the first time since twin 4-2 losses at Tampa Bay and Florida on Nov. 8-10.
Defenseman Adam Pelech took Barzal’s drop pass and beat Marc-Andre Fleury (23 saves) over his glove for a 2-1 lead at 11:19 of the second period.
But the Golden Knights tied the game at 2 on William Karlsson’s unassisted goal from the right circle after he intercepted defenseman Nick Leddy’s weak clearing attempt along the right boards from behind the Islanders’ net as Anders Lee lost his edge battling Karlsson.
“That was unforced,” Trotz said of Leddy’s pass. “That was a poor decision. They were changing. We’ve got to execute that. We’ve got to get the puck to the next level. Turnovers cost us.”
Another miscue also led to Tomas Nosek’s go-ahead goal at 3:32 of the third period, once it finally started.
Pulock tried to send the puck into the corner but had it intercepted. The puck wound up at the crease, where Hickey and Lehner miscommunicated as the goalie tried to clamp his glove down and Hickey hesitated in clearing it away. Instead, Nosek swooped in for the goal.
“On TV and when you’re on the ice, you think, ‘Why doesn’t he see it?’” Hickey said. “But there’s blind spots in that mask. I was trying to let him know and wait for him to cover it. It was just a split second and they get in there.”
Jonathan Marchessault’s power-play goal from the right circle on Vegas’ first shot beat Lehner to the short side high just 34 seconds into the game. Anthony Beauvillier tied it at 1 at 3:17.