The Islanders’ fast start led to a loss to the Stars
The Islanders got the best start they needed. Indeed, they played the game they needed after a tough four-game road trip. Only two points were missing.
It happens sometimes in hockey, and one of them was a consolation during that loss. But with the Islanders opening a crucial five-game homestand and needing a win more than a consolation prize and improved play, it wasn’t a decisive night. They’ll have to settle for that as they bounce back from a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Stars on Tuesday night at UBS Arena after Jason Robertson’s game-winner.
After playing two disastrous games in Edmonton and Calgary to close out the trip, the Islanders showed the kind of hockey on Tuesday that you’d think might struggle in the playoffs at times. If they go that far.
They can’t guarantee they’ll be in the middle of January at home, not with a very close race in the Eastern Conference between the Penguins, Sabres, Capitals and Rangers. But if things go in the wrong direction, they will certainly see their hopes dashed.
All year the Islanders have played well against their toughest competition, coming into the game at the top of the Central Division, Dallas. In fact, a top team tends to learn from mistakes, and that’s what the Stars did.
The fateful moment for the Isles came at the end of a difficult second period where neither team could convert chances. Casey Chizikas’ goal was wiped off the board after Anthony Beauvillier was called off the ice for a 2-1 lead.
It was a precious time that the islanders could not afford at night, which might otherwise have been positive.
After 20 more scoreless minutes that led to overtime, the Isles failed to get the extra point, and it was hard not to look back and think about it.
Tonight was more positive than any of their three straight losses. The Islanders forechecked, played good hockey and easily won their own leg. They even scored a rare power play goal. But none of that mattered in the end.
Even when the Stars struck first, the Isles didn’t budge when Jason Robertson finished off a tic-tac-toe by Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin 3:42 into the game. Unlike Edmonton and Calgary early on, they got off the mat and were persistent.
It quickly paid off as Anders Lee headed home a pass from Brock Nelson at 13:39 of the first.
However, this is the type of game that will have to be replayed over and over again over the next 18 days before the All-Star break. Three of their next four games are against playoff teams on Tuesday. Then it’s off to Buffalo for a decider against the Sabres, and home against the Hurricanes, who swept them a month ago at UBS Arena.
With the Islanders on a knife’s edge in the playoff race and looking to climb off the cliff, that’s about as many games as one could ask for halfway through the season.
Often, like Tuesday, the game ends with two points. However, this time the Isles lost their third straight and fourth in five.
It means that this time it was not enough.
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