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Islanders Relapse; Lose To Devils In Final Seconds

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Newark, NJ– After stringing together a stretch of decent performances in third periods, it seemed the New York Islanders had put their debilitating late-game woes behind them.

That was until Tuesday night at Prudential Center, where the Islanders lost 5-4 to the New Jersey Devils after surrendering three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes, with the decider coming at 19:37 of the third period.

“We let it slip away,” Bo Horvat said. “I felt like our third periods, as of late, have been a lot better than they were. We just fell right back into it tonight.”

First, it was Jack Hughes’ goal that he scored while left wide open from the right faceoff dot that made the risk of a collapse feel possible. The Islanders had a chance to save themselves with a power play but quickly botched it by taking two penalties of their own. Once Nico Hischier capitalized on the four-on-three advantage, the Islanders’ downfall felt inevitable.

“A lot of it’s been stick carelessness,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “When it’s four-on-four, we can’t have a careless stick.  That’s what happens. Next thing you know, the score is tied.”

Curtis Lazar banged in a puck that was loose in Ilya Sorokin‘s crease with 23 seconds left in regulation for the game-winner. Sorokin made 28 of 33 saves in goal.

The collapse to the Devils is just the latest of many for the Islanders this season. According to Ethan Sears of the NY Post, the Islanders have lost nine times where they have either given up the game-winner in the third period or allowed the game to be tied and lost in overtime.

“I wouldn’t say it’s shocking,” Noah Dobson said. “They got some momentum and we weren’t able to stop it in the third and they get one late.”

Horvat opened the game with a power-play goal by driving home a one-timer off of assists from Dobson and Mathew Barzal.

Barzal had three points in the game. He notched his sixth goal of the season in the second period, which Cal Clutterbuck followed up on 1:14 later. To cap off the frame, Barzal provided a no-look helper on Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s first goal of the season, chasing Devils starter Vitek Vanecek from the game.

“That’s not really what I’m thinking about right now, to be honest,” Pageau said when asked about the goal. “I like when we’re winning.”

Losing likely wasn’t the way defenseman Mike Reilly envisioned his Islanders debut.

Reilly was on the ice for two of the Devils’ scores, and his turnover in the neutral zone directly led to Michael McLeod’s goal that tied the game at 1-1 in the first period.

Dawson Mercer grabbed the advantage for New Jersey to open the second period before the Islanders took it back. Of course, though, it went home with the Devils at the end of the night.

The loss snapped a six-game point streak for the Islanders, dropping their record to 8-7-6 to begin a three-game road trip.

As they roll into Carolina on Thursday, the Islanders are hoping tonight’s result is truly just a one-game slip-up and not a sign of a full-blown relapse.

Notes: The Islanders activated Matt Martin off injured reserve but did not dress him for the game against the Devils. He has now missed the last six games…Hudson Fasching remains stuck on 99 career NHL games after being made a healthy scratch for the second game in a row…Samuel Bolduc was passed over in the lineup in favor of Reilly and Grant Hutton.

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