Without a win in 13 games and one calendar month, it’s hard to take consolation in earning a point.
The Islanders took little comfort in doing that for only the second time during their recent slump, as they fell 2-1 in overtime to the Thrashers at Philips Arena Sunday.
The Islanders secured a lead in their second straight game—a rarity these days—but Nik Antropov tallied a power-play goal to pull even in the third and Dustin Byfuglien scored the game-winner.
“We had plenty of chances to win the game. One point doesn’t mean a lot,” Matt Moulson said.
Byfuglien scored the game-winner 1:30 into the overtime period to bury the Islanders for their 13th straight loss and spoil a superb performance by goaltender Rick DiPietro.
“I can say one thing, throughout this whole thing, guys care,” DiPietro said. “I hope people realize that. This eats at us. This isn’t fun for anybody. This is keeping guys up at night and making us sick to our stomachs. This is unacceptable for us. We came into the season with the credo that there are no excuses and we’re not going to make any.”
In his first start since November 3--a 7-2 loss to Carolina in the team’s worst performance of the year—DiPietro was stellar in goal. The 29-year-old netminder turned away 33 shots, a season-high and the most since October 18, 2008.
Twice in the third period DiPietro saved the Islanders from losing their sole point, first by smothering Jim Slater’s wraparound attempt while laying face down on the ice then by blanking Evander Kane on a breakaway with 3:59 to go in regulation.
“He was our best player tonight,” interim head coach Jack Capuano said.
“A loss is a loss,” DiPietro said. “The frustrating part is you see what capable of doing for long stretches of time. A couple mistakes here and there and it cost us the game. We’ve got a great group of guys in here. There’s no other 20 guys I’d rather go to war with every night.”
Playing the second period with only five defenseman--Mike Mottau was taken to the hospital on a stretcher after getting hit with a shot in his right eye during the first period--the Islanders took a late lead with a goal by Michael Grabner.
The 23-year-old Austrian winger, who was claimed off waivers from Florida early last Month, poked one through Thrasher goaltender Ondrek Pavelec's pads at 19:47.
But after sacrificing the equalizer in the third—Antropov scored 13 seconds after Zenon Konopka’s holding penalty—the Islanders were plagued by their inability to finish once again.
The closest the Islanders came was when Pavelec made a beautiful diving save to rob P.A. Parenteau from the right circle at 14:56 of the third.
“Over the course of 12 games, you can only say and repeat so many things. You try to be positive, but in the end, it comes down to wins and losses,” alternate captain Mark Eaton said. “Obviously we’re just not getting the W’s.”