Islanders Haunted by Turnovers and Mistakes Against Senators
The Ottawa Senators took advantage of seemingly every mistake made by the New York Islanders in their 5-2 win at Scotiabank Place. While John Tavares opened the scoring just 49 seconds into the game, a costly turnover by Mike Mottau, a phantom tripping call on P.A Parenteau, and a badly timed broken stick buried the Isles. Despite a 30 shot effort, the Islanders squandered another opportunity to keep up pace with the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
After a hard fought victory against their cross-town rivals, the New York Islanders suffered from some of the same mistakes that almost cost them a victory against the Rangers. The Ottawa Senators crippled the New York PK unit as they notched two power-play tallies in three opportunities. On the first opportunity, Jason Spezza went off the ice after being hit with a shot, but the Islanders penalty killers could not clear their zone and wound up surrendering a goal to Milan Michalek.
Even though the Senators were able to tie the game, they were given a gift of an opportunity when the referees called a tripping penalty on P.A Parenteau. The two minutes assessed to Parenteau were very questionable, but the Isles' inability to clear the puck from their own zone allowed Jason Spezza to cash in on the Sens' shortened man-advantage. The second period scores by the Senators were enough to shift the momentum in favor of the home team, but the Islanders were very much in the game at the start of the third period.
However, Mike Mottau showed some signs of rust after coming back from his 26 game absence as his defensive miscue allowed Jim O'Brien to net the game winning goal just over 5 minutes into the final frame. P.A Parenteau answered less than four minutes later with his second point (1 Goal, 1 Assist) of the night, but his goal was quickly answered back by Ottawa's Chris Neil as Mark Streit had broken his stick and was unable to properly defend the Sen's rush at the other end. In the end, it was too little too late for the Isles as Kyle Turris potted an empty net goal to prevent any chance of a late Islander surge to get within tying range.
With 20 games left to play, the Islanders' most recent loss to the Senators puts a bit of a damper on the team's playoff hopes. The Islanders are 8 points behind 8th place Winnipeg, but have 2 games in hand on the Jets and will meet the team for this year's last regular season game at Nassau Coliseum. If the Isles can find a way to string together a few wins in their upcoming games, then the April 5th matchup against the Jets can possibly hold some playoff implications.
While it is impossible to forecast the future, the Islander's schedule does not get any easier. The team will face Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia in their next three games and will then play three straight contests against the New Jersey Devils. For the most part, February has been an inconsistent month for the Isles as they haven't been able to put together any sort of winning streak. There is still much hockey left to play in the 2011-2012 season, but the onus will be on the team to have a strong finish to the season.
The Islanders have come out flatfooted in the beginning of some games and that is the most important trend that must be reversed in the upcoming games. While John Tavares immediately put the Islanders ahead in today's contest, surrendering the game's opening goal in the opening minutes of the game has been a problem that has plagued the Islanders this season. Head Coach Jack Capuano must make sure that his troops are ready to go at the start of every period as the Islanders are not defensively talented enough to allow the opposition to freely pepper Evgeni Nabokov and/or Al Montoya.
With tomorrow's trade deadline looming, Garth Snow might ship one of his veteran rearguards to a team in need of some depth and a change to the team would not be unexpected. However, the New York Islanders must focus on Tuesday night's game against the Capitals and make sure that they bring their A-game against a Caps team that find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture for the first time in years.
Travis Hamonic, P.A Parenteau, Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, and Nick Foligno all had two-point nights for their respective teams. Robin Lehner won his third career NHL game and two of those three wins have come against the New York Islanders, with his first career NHL win coming on January 13, 2011 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Josh Bailey (Back Spasms), Steve Staios (Lower-body Injury), and Brian Rolston were all scratched from today's lineup.