It might have been a different story, but it ended up more of the same as the New York Islanders took a fortuitous two-goal lead into the third period, which they let familiarly and steadily slip away for another regulation loss and a missed opportunity to actually win two games in a row.
The game was actually evenly played through the first two periods, so it was with some luck and sniping that the Isles had a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes to go. It was with familiar mistakes and missteps that they were outscored 3-0 (4-0 including an empty netter) in the third to lose 5-3.
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The Islanders tried to ride Thomas Vanek's first-period goal for most of the first two periods, leaning on Evgeni Nabokov through multiple flurries in the second period before Ryan Getzlaf finally broke through at 15:10 of the second for the Ducks.
Prior to Getzlaf's goal, Matt Martin and Mark Fistric, who each roughed the other team up in these teams' previous meeting, came nearly to blows -- no, nearly to a sword fight -- in the second period, with gloves and sticks eventually hitting the ice ... and no penalties called. Considering how an ice shaving was called a penalty the previous night at Madison Square Garden, you can assure yourself once again that the NHL has an officiating consistency issue.
Rough stuff continued to escalate until Martin finally fought Tim Jackman, a rematch of their bout in Anaheim
With Anaheim increasing the pressure, it looked like they would take the proverbial "momentum" into the third period. Instead, Vanek scored again (on a slapper) followed by Frans Nielsen (a nifty outside move and quick shot) in rapid succession to leave the Isles up 3-1 at the second intermission. Ben Lovejoy provided hilarious, Milan Jurcina-like interference on his own goalie on Nielsen's goal.
The Ducks' pressure did not let up, however. The Isles promptly gave up another to Getzlaf just 1:10 into the third period, the Ducks' dangerous top line cycling the puck well until a loose puck popped free for Getzlaf in the slot.
Nine minutes later, it was officially another blown third-period, two-goal lead when a bounced pass to the front of the net landed on the stick of Mathieu Perreault, who easily tied it up at 3-3...
...and then the dagger came when Andrew MacDonald and Brian Strait both epically whiffed on Kyle Palmieri off a defensive zone faceoff and let Palmieri shoot point blank on Nabokov for a 4-3 lead with just 6:16 left in regulation.
The Isles' best attempt at an equalizer was when the top line pressured in the Ducks' zone with two minutes left, to no avail. The second line couldn't get more than a few dump-ins before Getzlaf notched his hat trick with a long-distance empty netter to ice the game.
The Islanders play once more before Christmas, Monday night in Detroit. Good luck with all that.