This most likely was the final home game for Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek. It looked an awful lot like many, many others for the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum this season and ended in ugly fashion Sunday against the Florida Panthers.
Vanek scored twice in 58 seconds to get the Islanders in front, but for the 12th time this season and the 10th time in 32 home games, the Isles coughed up a two-goal lead and lost, 5-3.
The Islanders' loss was a jumble of deflected pucks, borderline no-calls and missed opportunities that don't require much detailing. After seven losses in the last nine games, after a 2-6-4 record in those 12 games in which the Isles gave away a two-goal lead, there's little reason for details.
Vanek and MacDonald almost certainly will be dealt before Wednesday's trade deadline. Instead of at least some sort of decent send-off, both will leave with more frustration and bad feelings. "Up a goal or two, it should be automatic to win those," said MacDonald, who played his 295th NHL game, all with the Islanders. "When you get a lead, you should be able to close it out."
Vanek was playing only his 47th game as an Islander, but he showed with a couple of quick shots in the first period why he's in demand as the deadline nears. He snapped a wrist shot past Tim Thomas off a drop pass by Cal Clutterbuck at 6:41; his next goal, on the power play, was a soft but well-placed shot through a screen at 7:39.
The Islanders had a bevy of chances to extend the lead, including a two-minute five-on-three power play, but they could not convert. Nevertheless, Ryan Strome answered Shawn Matthias' goal late in the second off a feed from Vanek and the Isles took a 3-1 lead into the third.
By the 4:18 mark, the score was tied, and Scottie Upshall's rebound goal past Anders Nilsson with 9:29 to go was the winner.
Vanek, who has reached the 20-goal mark in all nine of his NHL seasons, and MacDonald couldn't help but think about what's to come next.
"You try to block it out, but it's hard not to," said Vanek, who rejected a seven-year, $50-million offer from the Islanders in January.
For MacDonald, who turned down a four-year, $16-million deal early this season, trade talk is an entirely foreign concept. "I've only ever been here," he said. "I don't know anything different. You try not to think about it, but obviously it's running through your mind. It's a business and that's just how it is right now, I guess.
"This is obviously not how I'd like to go out."
The Islanders head to Winnipeg Monday, so Vanek and MacDonald might get one more game each in an Islanders uniform Tuesday against the Jets. By 1 p.m. local time in Edmonton on Wednesday -- the Islanders travel there after Tuesday's game -- both will know their new destinations.
With a league-low nine home wins, those two are among an Islanders team that hasn't made any lasting memories at Nassau Coliseum this season.