The Islanders had enough resolve to earn a point, but not enough legs to get two.
Still, Saturday night’s 1-0, four-round shootout loss to the Flyers at UBS Arena no doubt confirmed to president and general manager Lou Lamoriello what he had said before the game: that his continued trust in coach Lane Lambert and belief in the direction of the team are warranted.
“Lane’s composure through that whole process was evident by the way the players came out of it,” Lamoriello said of the Islanders’ recent 0-4-3 skid, which led to speculation about Lambert’s job security.
The Islanders (8-6-6) had a three-game winning streak snapped but still are on a 3-0-3 spurt.
Ilya Sorokin made 40 saves for his second shutout and Samuel Ersson’s first shutout included 25 stops for the Flyers (11-9-1). Tyson Foerster scored the shootout’s lone goal.
The teams were playing for the third time in four days and in a back-to-back situation. The Islanders won, 5-3, in Ottawa on Friday after defensemen Adam Pelech — placed on long-term injured reserve with an upper-body injury — and Sebastian Aho, also unavailable Saturday, exited early in the first period.
“It was a pretty ugly hockey game,” Anders Lee said. “It got better as it went on, especially in overtime. It’s just one we had to try and grit out. Just came up short.”
Rookie Samuel Bolduc and Grant Hutton, recalled earlier in the day from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, comprised the team’s third defensive pair. Noah Dobson logged 28:41 after playing a career-high 31:05 against the Senators. Alexander Romanov played 22:52 after a career-high 30:02 on Friday.
“It was a lot of minutes yesterday,” said the right-shooting Dobson, who moved to the left side as he was paired with righty Scott Mayfield. “It was one of those games where you’ve just got to bear down, try to keep it simple, keep the shifts short. We battled. We competed and got a hard-fought point.”
“You want to win games,” said Ryan Pulock, who logged 23:33 against the Flyers after playing 28:47 on Friday. “I felt like we were maybe not as sharp as we need to be at times. I just thought we gutted it out. We knew we weren’t going to be perfect.”
The Flyers just got to more pucks than the Islanders.
The Islanders took the game’s first six shots but were outshot in the first period 12-6 as they were unable to get a puck on net for the final 16:55. The drought ended with Mathew Barzal’s close-range wrist shot at 1:00 of the second period.
The gritty — if not totally successful — performance had the fans fully engaged. It was a far cry from earlier this month, when chants in successive home games called for Lamoriello’s ouster and Lambert’s firing.
“I have no response,” Lamoriello said. “That’s part of the game. I respect the fans. They have the right to do what they feel. I love their passion. I don’t mind. We’re expected to win.”
The Islanders were shut out for the first time this season, and Lamoriello said he does expect more from Bo Horvat’s top line with Barzal.
“I think that both Bo Horvat [five goals, nine assists] and Mat Barzal [five goals, 11 assists] have much more to give,” Lamoriello said. “I believe they will and I think that’s the good news.”