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New York Islanders

Missed Opportunities Cost Islanders In Shootout Loss To Rangers



AP Photo/John Munson

NEW YORK — The New York Islanders had countless chances to steal a victory on Saturday afternoon. All the New York Rangers needed was a few.

Despite the Islanders having five power plays and even a penalty shot opportunity, it was the Rangers who earned the extra point via a the shootout in a 3-2 final at Madison Square Garden, ending the Islanders’ six-game winning streak.

“We had lots of opportunities to try and take a bigger lead, and we failed,” said Ryan Pulock. “It’s got to be better. We can’t win like that.”

Artemi Panarin scored on Ilya Sorokin to open the shootout for the Rangers.

Kyle Palmieri beat Igor Shestertkin but couldn’t beat the left post.

After Mika Zibanejad and Brock Nelson were both denied, Vincent Trocheck put an end to the afternoon.

The game’s conclusion was foreshadowed at 13:04 of the third period when Shesterkin made an effortless save on a penalty shot from Adam Pelech to hold the score at 2-1 Islanders.

It was Pelech’s first career penalty shot attempt.

With one goal this year, Pelech isn’t the most skillful of players, but had he managed to beat Shesterkin at that moment, perhaps Panarin’s tying goal at 15:43 wouldn’t have mattered or even had happened at all.

Nonetheless, it did. As Trocheck won a draw in the Islanders’ end, Panarin swooped in from the wing and sniped a shot high past Sorokin’s glove for his 48th goal of the year.

Even still, Pelech’s penalty shot wasn’t the biggest missed opportunity the Islanders had. Rather, it was the five power plays they failed to score on. That, in large part, can be credited to the absence of Noah Dobson, who missed the game with an upper-body injury.

“Noah, on the power play, is obviously one of the better guys in the league,” said Nelson. “It’s not a knock on the next guy, but you’d like to have that versus not. Without him, though, we still think that we’re a group that can go out there and generate momentum, score and be a difference-maker. Tonight, we weren’t very good.”

Nelson scored twice in the second period to give the Islanders the lead heading into the third.

As well as the period ended for the Islanders, it couldn’t have started any worse.

The Islanders had an extended power play to start the middle frame while Kaapo Kakko served a double minor penalty for an egregious high stick on Robert Bortuzzo.

But even with the extra time on the man advantage, the Islanders gave up more scoring chances than they generated. Several times, they failed to enter the zone cleanly, easily turning the puck over and allowing the Rangers to threaten with odd-man rushes.

Sorokin held the game scoreless for as long as he could but eventually gave up a rebound on a three-on-one chance to Braden Schneider that the defenseman buried for a shorthanded goal to open the scoring for the Rangers at 4:33 of the period.

As much as his playing time has been cut lately, Sorokin was the reason the game remained as close as it did. He put together a vintage performance with 41 saves on 43 shots, only to be bested by Shesterkin, who stopped 34 of 36 shots, in the shootout.

By collecting one point, the Islanders improved their season total to 90 with two games remaining on their schedule.

Depending on if the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings both lose in regulation, the Islanders could officially find themselves on their way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the end of the day.

Before they get there, though, they’ll need to straighten out their power play and will get their chance to do so come Monday night at the New Jersey Devils.