Sens Overrule The Isles With A 5-1 WIn
When it rains, it pours; that has been the mantra of the New York Islanders this weekend. Yesterday the Isles let up six goals in a loss to the Boston Bruins that mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention. Today, they continued their struggling ways in a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, who were without both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.
"It was pretty horrible on our part. They were missing two of their top players and we couldn't take advantage of it. The way we played, we didn't deserve to win, that's for sure," said Islanders captain Mark Streit after the game. He would be the only Islander to be credited with a goal tonight with a John Tavares pass going off of his skate and behind Senators net-minder Craig Anderson.
"We played too complicated. We didn't get pucks deep. We had way too many turnovers. They kept it simple, they worked pretty hard. We just played too complicated. At the end it was a little bit better but tonight we just played awful."
And it was pretty awful to watch. The Islanders typically struggle on back-to-back games and continued with that type of play this afternoon. Al Montoya was in net for the Isles and did not look confident between the pipes. The first goal for the Sens came from Kyle Turris after Montoya fell over his own feet, leaving a wide open net for him to bury an easy goal.
The team came out entirely flat in the second period and Montoya was unable to withstand the pressure on his own. He surrendered three more goals, two of which he probably would have liked to have back. Milan Michalek was able to have an innocent back hand trickle behind Montoya, who would then later struggle to find a rebound that was laying right next to him, allowing Nick Foligno to bury an easy one. The other goal came on the power play off a Sergei Gonchar slap shot.
In the third period Turris would score his second of the game, this time on the power play, with seemingly every Islander in front of the crease. Once again the rebound could not be controlled and after a few whacks and Steve Staois sitting in the back of the net, the puck would find its way past the goal line.
"Until you go back and look at the tape, Al is going to play down the stretch and get every opportunity there and keep working," said Capuano in regards to Montoya's play tonight. "But you don't want to say too much on certain players until you watch the tape, but yesterday in the third period of the Boston game he made some big saves when he had to, tonight again, it's just the situation, I'm sure he'd like to have one back for sure, but I'd have to look at it."
The most spirited effort of the night came when Micheal Haley fought Chris Neil in the first period, responding to a hit behind the Senators net. Haley might have received more punches than he had thrown, but he hung in there for the whole tussle and wound up taking Neil down to the ice.
After the game, Haley looked at it as just another play in the game.
"Just part of hockey. I know he fights, it was just another altercation. You know, we fought."
Haley would almost get at it with Neil for a second time after he had collided with Andrew MacDonald and basically bear hugged him to the ice right in front of the refferee. They were down for so long that the Senators couldn't enter the Isles zone because they would have been offside. Travis Hamonic was coming to his partner's aide before Neil got up, but even if he did confront the Sens enforcer he wouldn't have been able to do much since he is still sporting a caged helmet. But Haley dropped his gloves immediately and grappled with Neil before the linesman separated them.
"Well the second one, you know it was 4-1. I didn't really like the way him and A-Mac were tangled up in the corner there," said Haley. "4-1 game, I thought I'd go over there and say we're not going to take that."
It was the first time in a long time that someone stuck up for another teammate. Although Matt Martin typically plays that role well, which is one of the reasons why he was the recipient of this year's Bob Nystrom award, he shouldn't be the only one responsible for sticking up for his teammates. Jack Capuano commented on Haley's play after the game, saying that these next few games are an evaluation period for some players heading into next season. If he was looking to impress, Haley wound up with about 13 minutes of ice time and even was rewarded with some power play time as well.
Capuano also played with the lines a little bit, benching all of his forwards and sending out five defenseman with Streit taking the face-off after letting up the first Senators goal in the second period. The head coach was sending a message to his players that undisciplined and lazy play would not be rewarded with ice time, especially when the Senators also played last night and were without their top two forwards.
"I thought that there was a good six or eight minute, nine minute lapse that we had where they capitalized in the second period," said Capuano. "We didn't compete hard enough tonight, we didn't deserve to win the hockey game. We had some guys that played with no urgency in their game at all."
That is something that the Islanders will have to change as they will face the New Jersey Devils on the road on Tuesday before playing their last game at the Coliseum this year on Thursday vs. the Winnipeg Jets. They will then complete their season on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
"I think mostly you just want to, as a group, play for one another, play together," said John Tavares after the game. "[We] go through a lot of ups and downs through the year. You want to finish strong, no matter what the circumstances are, who you're playing against. Whether you're trying to get better as a player and grow and learn the game or a veteran guy that's playing towards the end of his career and want to play well and be part of this - it's a special thing to be part of a team and going through the ups and downs."
"We just want to stick together and play better hockey than we have in the past couple of games."
They have only three more opportunities to do just that.