Once again the New York Islanders earned themselves a two-goal lead entering the third period in Alberta. Once again they let it all slip away in a flash. Tonight's beneficiary was the Calgary Flames, for them a feel-good 4-3 comeback win on Joe Nieuwendyk Night.
It would be comical if it weren't so sad, so frustrating, and so clearly beyond their power to find an explanation. Tonight a 5-on-3 with a chance to make it a three-goal lead was mostly wasted, though Kyle Okposo's shot got through enough to cruelly hit the crossbar, an iron omen of what was to come, again.
And then, true to script, three goals in a 4:12 span confirmed the fears. The winning goal was tipped, then ramped up and over Anders Nilsson off his goal stick. The tying goal had been a complete breakdown by every player on the ice. The Isles showed "fight" at the final buzzer, but not between minutes 40 and 55.
It's another night of outshooting the opponent, another night of three goals not being enough.
Before the latest Groundhog Day collapse, the Isles played well -- outside of a comically inept opening power play that led to a shorthanded goal -- with each of the top three lines scoring.
Anders Lee and Ryan Strome continued to show some nice moments, Strome setting up Colin McDonald from behind the net for a sniper shot on the first goal. Michael Grabner cashed a turnover in for a 2-on-1 where he fed Kyle Okposo perfectly. Brock Nelson had a perfect top-corner goal of his own, taking a Josh Bailey setup and using Cal Clutterbuck as a screen.
But that was all in the first 40 minutes, leading to a 3-1 lead. For the Islanders, the third period is another story. A story we've been over and over too many times before.