The barnacle-covered anchor that has become this Islanders season sank a few feet closer to the bottom Monday night.
They finally produced a couple of goals and a couple of leads, thanks to John Tavares and Thomas Vanek. But in short order in the closing seconds of the second period, the Islanders deflated again.
They were burned by a shorthanded goal by the Ducks with 32.7 seconds remaining in the second -- and burned again with 1.7 seconds left in the period as the insults piled higher.
That 31-second span was the difference in a 5-2 loss, the Islanders' 10th straight game without a win (0-8-2) and 10th consecutive regulation loss on the road, their longest such streak since their abysmal inaugural season of 1972-73.
In the stunned silence of another road locker room, the Islanders (8-18-5) spoke of doing good things, of grabbing a lead, but they know that's not what counts.
Their 2-13-2 run has put coach Jack Capuano's job in serious peril -- owner Charles Wang and general manager Garth Snow were in attendance again Monday night -- and cast serious doubt that the core of this organization is capable of leading the team to any type of success.
"We have five minutes every night where we just lose it," Frans Nielsen said. "We did it at the end of the second. We've done it before."
"Whatever good we did really doesn't matter anymore," Andrew MacDonald said. "We need wins, period. Nothing else matters."
Tavares led a charge in the opening period that had the Islanders getting the better of the play against a Ducks team now tied for the most points in the NHL with 47 (21-7-5). Vanek set up Tavares for a power-play goal 9:17 into the game, the Islanders' first lead away from Nassau Coliseum since a 1-0 lead in Washington on Nov. 5.
The Ducks tied it on Saku Koivu's goal at 15:54, but the Isles grabbed a 2-1 lead at 4:17 of the second period on Vanek's goal off Tavares' faceoff win. Another mistake-filled shift led to Andrew Cogliano's tying goal at 12:41, but the Isles remained feisty and got back-to-back power plays in the final 4:52 of the second with a chance to grab the lead again.
Instead, the game basically ended in a flash. A turnover inside the Ducks' line with Vanek and Kyle Okposo having overstayed their shifts gave the Ducks a shorthanded three-on-one. Anders Nilsson got a piece of Matt Beleskey's shot, but the puck squirted through to Cam Fowler, who easily swept it in to put the Ducks ahead.
The Islanders still had some power-play time, but another turnover let the Ducks rush up ice inside of 10 seconds. Corey Perry danced around rookie Calvin de Haan and threw a shot from his knees that appeared to bank off Travis Hamonic's pants and in with 1.7 seconds left, taking the air out of the Isles' bench again.
"We just can't seem to figure out some of our breakdowns," Tavares said.
Perry added a power-play goal at 7:40 of the third period.
The Islanders headed to San Jose late Monday night for another difficult game. But the way they are fighting themselves, the way they are tensing up every time a mistake finds the back of their net, it doesn't matter whom they're playing.
Irrelevance is getting closer, even before the halfway mark of the season.