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New York Islanders

Islanders Not Desperate Enough In OT Loss To Ottawa



AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

ELMONT, NY– For a team desperately trying to make a late-season playoff push, the New York Islanders have surely lacked desperation.

After stringing together their most impressive winning streak of the year, the Islanders have lost three straight games following a 4-3 defeat to the Ottawa Senator in overtime Saturday afternoon at UBS Arena.

“Overall, we need to play with a little more desperation and more will,” Matt Martin said. “We just kept jumping over the boards with nobody really taking the bull by the horns.”

Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk completed a natural hat trick to win the game. His third goal of the afternoon and 30th of the season came while Islanders forward Bo Horvat watched from the penalty box, serving a holding penalty that put the Islanders shorthanded with less than two minutes to play in overtime.

“I was just trying to win my battle,” Horvat said. “He had my hand in his body, and there was nothing I could do to get it out. I was just trying to whack the puck. I don’t know if [the referee] was trying to make up that for their call or what, but I mean, at the end of the day, I guess I can’t take that penalty.”

Minutes earlier, Horvat looked to be one of the heroes of the game.

With 37.2 seconds remaining in regulation, his one-timer from the point flew past Ottawa netminder Joonas Korpisalo to tie the game at three and assure the Islanders picked up at least a point in the standings. But just as they had throughout the game, the Islanders failed to capitalize on their momentum.

“We just didn’t play our game, in my opinion, and I think everybody can agree with that,” Horvat said. “Turning too many pucks over, and I don’t think our forecheck was as good as it has been in the past. They’re an opportunistic team that can obviously bury their chances. We’re happy to get the point, but it should have never been that way.”

What’s troubled the Islanders most during this skid is their inability to generate consistent offensive pressure, or any at all for that matter.

That seemed to be a problem of the past when Martin wrapped around the back of the net to open the scoring at 4:27 of the first period. With assists from Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle MacLean, Martin’s third goal of the season ended a 126:15-long scoring drought for the Islanders.

But rather than building on their early lead, the Islanders spent the majority of the second period in their own end as they fell back into the same tiresome pattern of play that’s recently plagued them.

“We were a little too pretty offensively. It doesn’t have to be pretty all the time,” Islanders head coach Patrick Roy said. “[We had] great forecheck on the first one. Marty scored on the wrap-around. Sometimes, that’s what you need to do to score goals. I felt like we were looking for the perfect play, and that didn’t work. We got to simplify some of those things, especially when the puck doesn’t go in the way you want.”

Tkachuk evened the score with his first goal of the game, picking the top corner with a shot that Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov was too slow to snare with his glove.

Still, the Islanders escaped the middle frame, clinging to a one-goal lead after Kyle Palmieri was gifted his 21st goal of the season when his weak shot off an odd-man rush slipped through the legs of Korpisalo.

Soon enough, the Islanders’ lead was erased again when Ridly Greig and Tim Stüztle toyed with Varlamov off the rush before Greig put the puck in the back of the net, tying the score 2-2 early in the third.

Ottawa jumped ahead when Tkachuk scored his second goal of the game less than a minute after Noah Dobson was called for a delay of game penalty.

“I felt that we gave them those four goals,” Roy said. “When a team is not scoring as well as you wish, you got to play very well defensively. We got to manage that puck much better than what we did.”

Losing after spending the majority of the game hurts enough for the Islanders, but it’s compounded by the fact that Ottawa is a team that’s long been out of the postseason contention.

The road ahead only gets more difficult for the Islanders. Starting tomorrow against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, their next five games come against teams that are either firmly in a playoff position or still in the hunt for one.

If the Islanders weren’t desperate before, they surely are now, as they once again sit outside a shrinking playoff picture.




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