Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss after Montreal Canadiens left wing Artturi...

Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss after Montreal Canadiens left wing Artturi Lehkonen ties the score at 3-3 in the third period at Barclays Center on Nov. 5, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

There’s a difference between an excuse and an explanation.

So being on the back end of a stretch of six games in 10 days doesn’t excuse a sloppy 4-3 five-round shootout loss to the Canadiens on Monday night at Barclays Center. But it does explain why the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders skated sluggishly in having their five-game winning streak snapped.

Islanders coach Barry Trotz canceled Tuesday’s planned practice to give his tired crew a rest, and the team will reconvene on the ice on Wednesday in Tampa, Florida. When the Islanders (8-4-2) return from this two-game trip, they play their next seven locally, including games against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and the Devils at Prudential Center sandwiched around Thanksgiving.

“The group has pushed for a bit and [Monday] we just didn’t have it,” Trotz said. “That wasn’t our best. You’ve seen our best already in the last five, six games. We weren’t there. Is it a combination of the number of games in a short period of time? There’s no excuses. We try to give them rest. But when you’re not at your best, you have to find ways to simplify your game.”

The Islanders were quick to recognize what went wrong on Monday and that they need to skate better and shore up their defensive effort on Thursday.

Still, while not happy with being unable to hold a 3-1 first-period lead, the Islanders took solace in salvaging a point out of a poor performance.

That’s something they were unlikely to have done the past couple of seasons.

“We obviously think we had a bad game,” right wing Leo Komarov said. “We didn’t do the things we should do. It happens. A good team has to lose some nights also and we’ve been playing good so far.

“A point is important but I think we had a good chance to get two,” Komarov added. “It’s not a big thing. It happens. We just need to be ready the next game.”

Particularly against the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning, who bring a 7-2-1 streak into Tuesday night’s game against the visiting Oilers.

“[The Canadiens] played hard, they were all over us, they were hounding us and we just didn’t have an answer,” said Islanders center Casey Cizikas, who had two goals on Monday. “It’s definitely tough but we’re going to watch video and see what we have to do to be better.”

Notes & quotes: New Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton, 33, who replaced the fired Joel Quenneville on Tuesday, played his entire 57-game NHL career with the Islanders from 2005 to 2011 after being a second-round pick in 2003. Mainly a fourth-line center, he compiled three goals, three assists and 26 penalty minutes.

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