Presented with another opportunity to get back in the win column in Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders came up short again.
They held a two-goal lead early in the third period thanks to Brock Nelson, but the Islanders allowed consecutive goals to fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, on Saturday night.
Sure, the easy read-and-react turning point to this one would be Teddy Blueger’s tying goal. Or even Kris Letang’s game-winner.
But this game was lost by the Islanders in the first period when they were held off the scoresheet.
“Life’s not fair sometimes,” Barry Trotz said after the game. “I think if you just stick to the process, I think you’ll get those results. I think the guys know in the room that we probably deserved a point tonight — at least — maybe two. And if we continue to play that way we’ll have success.”
After the pre-game celebrations for Sidney Crosby’s 1000th NHL game concluded, it was the Islanders who seized early momentum.
Thursday against Pittsburgh, the Islanders carried play in the opening period and held a 58.28 expected goals percentage. Saturday, they peppered Tristan Jarry even more.
The Islanders played 5-on-5 with Pittsburgh for the first 20 minutes and registered 21 total chances for and 15 against. In looking at the Islanders’ Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts), it was an even clearer picture with a 19-5 advantage swinging New York’s way. Overall, the Islanders had an stellar 74.38 xGF percentage in the frame.
And against Jarry, who’s largely struggled this season, this could have been a prime opportunity to get up early on the scoreboard. After all, he has a sub-.900 save percentage overall and .904 at even strength.
Even with just about everything going their way, the puck luck was not going to the Islanders. Jarry stymied them continually, most notably off a chance from Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee right in front of the net. Barzal went behind the goal, had a wraparound stopped while Lee couldn’t stuff home a rebound past Jarry’s sprawled out left pad.
“Because we had good net presence we shot it — just missed,” Trotz said of the first. “I thought we made it more difficult on [Jarry], unfortunately we just didn’t get another puck that was needed.”
It was a theme of the two-game trip in Pittsburgh. The Islanders had their chances but couldn’t swing the game in their favor for too long. In the end, it led to a four-point swing and has the two teams tied in the East Division standings.
“You’re not going to always get the result that you want, even when you’ve put in a pretty good effort,” Trotz said. “The other team on the other side put in a pretty good effort, too. They found a way to get three pucks to the back of the net.
“They say you can’t look back, you’ve just gotta look forward. But you have to understand how you’re going to have results.”