For the second night in a row, a slow start to the game cost the New York Islanders a win.
The Islanders surrendered a pair of first-period goals in a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday. It wrapped up the season series between New York and Pittsburgh, which saw the Islanders finish 2-4-2 in eight meetings and it was the second consecutive game that the Isles allowed multiple goals in the first period.
It was also the first time this season that the Islanders have allowed multiple goals in consecutive first periods, according to statistician Eric Hornick.
The effort on Monday was an improvement over the way the Islanders had played on Saturday night against Pittsburgh. New York mounted a small comeback in the third, but it was too little too late at that point in the game.
“Better for sure, especially the second and third,” Matt Martin said. “We were really on our game and had a lot of opportunities. Just hit a lot of posts and couldn’t capitalize. But I think that’s four in a row now probably where we have been chasing the game after the first or at least playing from behind.
“You’re not going to have a whole lot of success that way. We have to get off to a better start going forward.”
The loss allowed Pittsburgh to pull even with the New York Islanders in the East Division standings with 48 points each. New York had started the two-game set with Pittsburgh atop the division.
— Eric Hornick (@ehornick) March 29, 2021
Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves for the Islanders in the loss and Matt Martin scored their only goal of the night.
“We can’t let that carry on,” Ryan Pulock said of the slow starts. “We need to fix that now. It’s tough when you play tight teams like that and you give them two right away. It’s tough to come back. We need to focus on that next game. Making sure we’re ready and having a better first period.”
Pittsburgh made the most of their first power play of the game. Ross Johnston was called for slashing on his first shift of the night setting up the Pittsburgh man-advantage.
John Marino went end to end with the puck driving by several Islanders defenders and making his way behind the net, where he was able to feed Anthony Angello in front of the net for the goal. The goal at the 4:24 mark was Angello’s first power-play tally in the NHL.
Marino played a hand in Pittsburgh’s second goal of the game later in the first period. Marino took the puck into the Islanders zone as they were changing and sent it to Jared McCann, who was able to redirect the puck past Varlamov to make it 2-0 at 18:28.
The New York Islanders began to chip away at the Pittsburgh lead in the second period. After goaltender Tristan Jarry was replaced by Casey DeSmith to start the second, the Islanders put the pressure on the home side.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) March 30, 2021
With the Islanders firing on cylinders they capitalized on the power play nearly halfway through the second. Mathew Barzal was able to work along the boards and then send the puck towards the net, where Martin had positioned himself to redirect the puck for the goal.
The power-play goal was Martin’s second of his career in the NHL.
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz made a few lineup changes on Monday following the ugly loss to the same Pittsburgh team on Saturday. Ross Johnston returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 26 and Anthony Beauvillier was moved back to the wing of Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey.
“I thought Beau going with Nelly, they’ve always been a pretty good line,” Trotz said. “I think Beau gives Nelly and Bails a litte more pop. I felt that we needed a little more forecheck and a little more net presence, and that’s where Ross Johnston came in. I thought he did a good job.”
The Islanders played the pair of games against Pittsburgh without Michael Dal Colle, who was dealing with a lower-body injury.