There is more frustration, more effort without results, more golden scoring chances that cannot be converted.
The Islanders are stuck, sinking deeper in the standings with each fruitless performance. Last night's 3-2 loss to the Jets at the Coliseum was the Isles' fourth straight defeat and ninth in the last 11 games. They are seven points away from the last guaranteed Metro Division playoff spot, a gap that is already uncomfortably large just 25 games into the season.
This game looked a lot like recent losses. Three Jets goals in a 5:15 span of the second period strongly resembled the three quick strikes by the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday night. Both flurries broke open a competitive, scoreless game.
The Isles rallied, as they did in Pittsburgh on Friday night and in Philly. John Tavares helped set up Andrew MacDonald's power-play goal late in the second and then scored off the rush with 5:59 to go, cutting the deficit to a goal.
Thomas Vanek had the tying goal on his stick on the power play 90 seconds later, but his rebound try with a yawning net hooked under Jets goaltender and former Islander Al Montoya, who accidentally turned it aside to preserve the win.
"I thought we deserved better -- but to get that we have to work a little harder," Travis Hamonic said. "Stuff's going to happen, you have to react better to it -- it's kind of the same old thing."
The Islanders didn't play a great first period, with two power plays going for naught -- MacDonald's goal broke a 1-for-26 power-play slide -- but they were even in terms of play, continuing through the bulk of a rather dull second period.
Then, the little breakdowns came, and the pucks ended behind Kevin Poulin. Casey Cizikas lost a defensive-zone draw and Mark Stuart's point shot caromed off the post and in at 11:27 of the second. At 14:39, Matt Donovan lost the puck in the neutral zone with his forwards awaiting a dump-in and Andrew Ladd finished off the odd-man rush the other way.
"That's a costly turnover," Jack Capuano said of his rookie defenseman. "One play can cost you a game."
At 16:42, a scattered, partial change left the Isles scrambling for position in their own zone and Devin Setoguchi was free to direct a long-range tip past Poulin. Three mistakes, a couple more glaring than the rest, and the game was essentially out of reach.
"You've got to want the puck more than the other guy out there. We need that on every shift and it's not there," said Tavares, whose line with Vanek and Kyle Okposo generated the bulk of the Isles chances, but fumbled away a couple. "When we have everyone going as a team, we're tough to play against. We need more from everyone."
The Isles will skate on Thanksgiving, a necessity with back-to-back home games against the Red Wings and Capitals Friday afternoon and Saturday night. They are down to their last few chances to turn this season around -- they were able to do it with the pressure of the shortened season last year, nearly halfway through that 48-game schedule.
The longer, 82-game season means that, should the Isles keep losing games at this pace, the weeks of meaningless nights will stretch on forever.