ELMONT, N.Y. — It seemed somewhat fitting that moments after the New York Islanders let their 3-2 lead slip away in the third period of what was their 12th loss in their last 13 games that Iron Maiden’s “Can I play with Madness” blared over the sound system of UBS Arena.
Madness is certainly the emotion that Islanders fans have been feeling since the start of the year, compounded by a month-long losing streak and an ever-dwindling hope of reaching the postseason. Perhaps the Iron Maiden classic, which in part is about a young man that thinks he is going mad, was an omen of how things were going to play the rest of the night on Thursday as New York Suffered it’s the toughest loss of the year by a score of 4-3 to the Nashville Predators.
The game-winning goal, which came with just 11.3 seconds left on the clock, encapsulated what has gone wrong for the New York Islanders this season. Much of the game, one could argue, was an embodiment of the season as a whole.
Tolvy Tip In pic.twitter.com/KrlcHH8NN2
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) December 10, 2021
The Islanders were done in by their own hand on Thursday night against Nashville. The most costly error was Noah Dobson’s decision to rim the puck around the boards, where Roman Josi was waiting for the puck and set up the winning goal for Eeli Tolvanen.
However, the mistakes came much earlier than that. Sebastian Aho’s turnover at his own blue line led to the tying goal in the first period and Andy Greene got blown past by Tanner Jeannot allowing the scoring chance that Yakov Trenin ultimately cashed in on to tie the game at three.
The Islanders had been a team that stuck to their structure and didn’t make too many mistakes. That hasn’t been the case this season.
Even head coach Barry Trotz appeared to acknowledge that when a reporter asked him about the “uncharacteristic breakdowns” the Isles had on Thursday against Nashville.
“I don’t know if they’re uncharacteristic or not,” Trotz responded to the question. “I thought we played pretty well. They didn’t have a lot of chances. We didn’t have a lot of chances. … You look at the first goal it was an individual turnover. We got beat wide. Just stuff like that and the last one I’m not quite sure why we just didn’t back off and get into the neutral zone and forecheck. We didn’t have to flush it there. We threw it around the boards and then we need a block there if we’re not going to hang onto it. We didn’t get it and it ends up in the back of our net.
“That was sort of a dagger shot. I felt like we deserved at least a point, maybe two tonight, but that’s not the way it’s going now for us. That one hurt because I thought we played a pretty solid game against a pretty good team.”
And perhaps that’s what made the entire scenario as surreal as it was. Trotz wasn’t wrong in his assessment of the game.
The New York Islanders played a good game where their offense stepped up, led by Anders Lee, Austin Czarnik and Noah Dobson. It seemed like destiny when Dobson scored at 5:08 of the third to put New York up 3-2.
But as fate would have it things turned, and the feel-good night that the New York Islanders so desperately need at their new home quickly turned to heartbreak.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” a dejected Anders Lee said. “Give ourselves a lead in the third period and we weren’t able to shut it down. This one sucks.”
🎥 Lee & Bailey Postgame Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/dyXR1cDAHn
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 10, 2021
The Islanders have already been facing an uphill battle, but the disappointment of Thursday’s loss adds another layer to it. They’re 12 points back of the final Wild Card spot and at the moment there doesn’t appear to be an answer for what ailed them this season.
Trotz has tried to give the veteran players in the group the room to snap out of their funks themselves, but that hasn’t yielded what the Islanders’ bench boss has wanted to see from some of his players. Anthony Beauvillier caught some of the ire from Trotz after deciding to skate back to the bench while Nashville charged into the offensive zone and scored.
Beauvillier didn’t play the first 10 minutes of the second period.
“He came back, they had full possession,” Trotz said. “He’s standing next to a D, decides to change. That D walks in and blasts it and they get a goal. That can’t happen. Beau has to raise his game. Not a lot of production. Lost too many battles in the last little while and that was sort of a little bit of a tipping point for me that maybe you have to watch a little bit.”
Another example of a mistake that cost the Islanders.
New York has games in hand and could still salvage the season. That won’t happen, however, if the now characteristically uncharacteristic mistakes keep happening for the Islanders.
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