Elmont, NY–The New York Islanders have shown how good they can be when they execute Patrick Roy’s vision of winning the battle of shots and scoring chances. But on Saturday, they showed that even when they play how their head coach wants, it doesn’t always end in a winning result.
Despite firing 37 shots on goal, the Islanders fell flat against the Calgary Flames by a final of 5-2 in a matinee at UBS Arena.
“I don’t know if we were as connected as a team the way we had been recently,” Anders Lee said. “It was kind of making it more difficult on ourselves in a couple of areas. Whether it’s getting the puck out or getting it in, just little things that make it easy against a team that transitions really well.”
MacKenzie Weegar opened the scoring in the first period for the Flames as he skated into the attacking zone untouched and put a wobbly wrist shot past Semyon Varlamov, who made the 600th appearance of his career.
Kyle Palmieri looked to have evened the score for the Islanders, but his goal was waived off upon a video review that showed Pierre Engvall was egregiously offsides on the play.
“Everything kind of happened so quick,” Palmieri said. “It was a weird play. I looked up, and Nelly was kind of right in front of me, so obviously, I knew I was going to wait for him to tag up. Marskstrom was getting back in the net, so I just kind of fired it. As soon as we got back to the bench, they said Pierre was already in the zone. I don’t blame him. I think most of the people in the building thought the puck was rimmed around.”
After Jonathan Huberdeau added a power-play goal to Calgary’s score in the second, Weegar struck again by taking advantage of soft defense from the Islanders, blasting a one-timer into the back of the net while uncovered in the slot.
At that point, Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom was unbothered in his crease and seemed well on his way to collecting an easy shutout performance until Brock Nelson got the Islanders on the board with four minutes gone by in the third period.
“We weren’t able to generate clean looks or get pucks to the net where we wanted to generate offense in scrums and plays in tight,” Nelson said. “I wouldn’t say it was horrible, but for some reason, we found ourselves not really generating as much possession or offensive zone time as we have maybe the last couple of weeks. We found ourselves in a hole, and it was a little too late in the third when we started to find it.”
Even with Markstrom’s shutout bid ruined, the Islanders’ play up until that point wasn’t inspiring any thoughts of a comeback. Nevertheless, Roy tried his hand by pulling Varlamov to the bench with 4:15 remaining in the game.
With the extra attacker on, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Islanders, but it was only after Blake Coleman hit the empty net for Calgary.
Weegar collected his first career hat trick by scoring with an empty-netter of his own to up his yearly total to 15 as the defenseman with the most goals in the NHL.
The regulation loss drops the Islanders’ record to 22-18-12 and prevents them from picking up a crucial two points in the playoff race. That in itself was disappointing enough. But for Roy, doing so at home makes it even harder to bear.
“I feel like, at times, we were maybe reacting instead of acting,” Roy said. “I really hate to lose, especially in our building, I feel like we need to be a little more dominant in our home.”