Elmont, NY– After the New York Islanders lost their third straight game on Thursday to the Boston Bruins, head coach Lane Lambert talked about how his team continues to dig itself into holes.
Following a 4-1 defeat to the Washington Capitals Saturday night at UBS Arena, the Islanders have hit rock bottom, with their losing streak now at a season-long four games. After dropping five of their last six contests, the Islanders’ record sits at 5-5-3.
“We have some decisions that are made, and some errors that are made, that are really costing us,” Lambert said. “When you make these mistakes, you find yourself on the losing end.”
Washington, an already aging team, was playing the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday with a goalie making just his second career NHL start. And yet, it was the Islanders who fell down and couldn’t get back up.
With the score even at one, the Islanders started the second period with ample time left on the power play, but the prime opportunity slipped away.
“It’s a moment that we could have taken a lead in the game,” Lambert said. “We didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.”
Later in the period, Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov did all he could to keep the score tied as he dove back across his crease after giving up a sharp rebound with a pad stop. But despite Varlamov’s best efforts, Nic Dowd managed to clean up the loose puck, giving the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
Down by one, the Islanders still had a chance to fight back into the game, or at least they did until Aliaksei Protas doubled Washington’s lead in the final minute of the second.
In goal, Varlamov made 24 of 27 saves for New York.
On the opposite end, Hunter Shepard held the Islanders at bay, stopping 36 of a possible 37 shots.
“Feels like a couple of them are getting blocked right now that maybe have gone through in the past,” Brock Nelson said. “We have to stick with it. We probably didn’t generate as much as we’d like and found ourselves in a hole.”
The one goal Shepard did surrender was the first of the season for Alexander Romanov.
As Shepard attempted to clear the puck from behind his own net, it instead found its way onto the waiting stick of Romanov after a series of awkward bounces. With the goal wide-open net, Romanov hit the back of the net off assists from Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat.
Romanov’s goal evened the score for the Islanders as the first period drew to a close. Earlier in the frame, Alexander Ovechkin flicked a snapshot from inside the left face-off dot that Varlamov couldn’t snag with the glove, putting the Capitals up 1-0.
Ovechkin also scored the empty-netter for Washington with three seconds to play in the third, locking in the final score.
The Islanders were certainly the more active team to start the game, as Washington was clearly still recovering from their battle with the New Jersey Devils 24 hours before. By night’s end, though, Lambert and his team looked lifeless.
Luckily, they’d already dug themselves into their own grave. Just not one deep enough to muffle the chants from the UBS faithful.