BOSTON, MA — The New York Islanders went up against the juggernaut Boston Bruins on Saturday night, and the outcome was a disaster. The result a 6-2 defeat in which they were flat-out dominated for most of the game.
What didn’t help was the loss of Mat Barzal just two shifts into the game after Boston forward Craig Smith hit him along the boards, a routine check that must have just got him in the wrong spot.
While missing Barzal for most of the game played a focal role in the loss, the Islanders were being dominated right from the get-go, so the result may have been the same.
New York is at the point in their season where every game is the most important game of the year, and Matt Martin called this loss unacceptable, a word that we have heard often in the Islanders room or by head coach Lane Lambert.
It’s not that the Islanders lost. It’s how they lost.
However, sometimes the hockey gods work in mysterious ways.
On Saturday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins (top wild-card), Washington Capitals (a point back), and Florida Panthers (a point back) all played. They all lost in regulation, meaning the Islanders not only remain in the second wild-card spot but stay tied point-wise with the Penguins, who hold the top wild-card spot with four games in hand.
The focus now for the New York Islanders is on Monday’s game against the Penguins, a rematch from Friday night in which the Islanders came back to win 5-4 in regulation.
“Once again, it’s the biggest game of the year on Monday, just like it was today and the day before,” Islanders forward Matt Martin said following the loss Saturday. “But obviously Pittsburgh is a team that, Pittsburgh and Washington are the team that we have our eyes on the most, I guess.
“It’s a big swing, so we need to find a way to win those.”
If the Islanders can beat the Penguins on Monday, the Bruins loss becomes an afterthought.
“We got to turn the page. We don’t have an option,” Kyle Palmieri said. “We’re in a chase for a playoff spot. We got an opportunity to play a team that’s above us on Monday, and we got an opportunity to kind of turn out a pretty good weekend with a win on Monday.”