UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The losses continued to add up for the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Defensive miscues once again cost the Islanders as they fell to the New Jersey Devils 2-1 at the Nassau Coliseum. It was the latest defeat that the Islanders have suffered at the hands of a team eliminated from the playoffs and it ended the Islanders’ hopes of having home ice in the playoffs.
The 1,400 fans in attendance booed as the final buzzer sounded and the New York Islanders dropped their third consecutive game to a non-playoff team.
“We just have to get back to a little bit of our identity,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said of the team’s play of late. “I think we’re cheating the game a little bit. We’re cheating our own game. There’s a certain way that we want to play. … I think we’ve come out and played the right way for the last three games for 10, 12 minutes and then we don’t get a result. Instead of staying with it we all of a sudden start changing our game.”
The Islanders have struggled to string together wins since the NHL trade deadline in April. They are now 4-6-2 since the deadline and have dropped consecutive games to Playoffbound opponents like Washington and Boston, as well as dropped two straight to the division worst Buffalo Sabres.
Islanders starter Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves in his 11th loss of the year, while Anthony Beauvillier scored New York’s only goal of the night. Beauvillier extended his point streak (five goals, one assist) to five games with his second-period goal on Thursday.
The loss on Long Island was just the second time that the Islanders had been defeated by New Jersey this season.
“I think we just have to get to our game,” said Scott Mayfield. who was on the ice for both goals against on Thursday as well as the only goal scored by New York. “We just have to find that identity. We’re big, physical, get in on the forecheck and break pucks out clean. We just have to find it. We have two games here and then playoffs start, so that’s all I can say is just find our game.”
The New York Islanders outshot New Jersey 33-25 through the 60-minute contest but had few high danger chances during the course of the night. They had just one high danger chance in all of the second period and were limited to four in the first and third periods, according to Natural Stat Trick.
New Jersey capitalized on the extended zone time they were getting towards the end of the first period. Pavel Zacha took a pass from Jasper Brett in the corner and was able to score off a one-timer to give New Jersey the 1-0 lead at 14:11.
The Islanders evened the score up at one when Beauvillier scored at the 5:35 mark of the second period. New York charged into the zone and Scott Mayfield went to feed Beauvillier in front.
The pass bounced off the leg of Beauvillier and by Mackenzie Blackwood for Beauvillier’s seventh goal in his last nine games.
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New Jersey regained their lead after Michael McLeod beat Varlamov with a tap-in goal that snuck by the Islanders netminder’s left skate.
Thursday marked the first that Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac played against their former team. Both players were acquired prior to the April 12 trade deadline. Palmieri logged 14:06 of ice time and Zajac played 13:45 against New Jersey.
“It was a little weird, warmups, seeing the guys and being on the other side,” said Zajac, who had spent his entire career in New Jersey prior to the trade. “After that, you get the nerves out and it’s another hockey game.”
New York and New Jersey face off one more time on Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum in the Islanders’ final home game of the regular season.