The New York Islanders' offensive woes continued Sunday evening in Brooklyn, as they extended their slump to just nine goals in their last six games. Purposefully playing without two forwards they counted on for offense heading into the season, the Isles again just managed one goal -- not enough, of course, in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.
It was their third regulation loss in their last four games, and their second home loss to the Bruins in two weeks.
A Desperate Reshuffling
Desperate to end a scoring slump that had them scoring only one or two goals in each of the previous five games, the Islanders made some moves heading into the game. Ryan Strome was sent to Bridgeport while Josh Bailey was a healthy scratch.
That meant Taylor Beck would make his Islanders debut, with Kyle Okposo and John Tavares on the first line for the first time this season. They lined up like this:
Tales of Woe
The Bruins got their lead with a goal against the Islanders penalty kill, still a rare event this season. But the Isles can explain: It was the tail end of a lengthy 5-on-3. Marek Zidlicky was already off for tripping when Brian Strait sent the puck over the glass 16 seconds later. The Isles finally broke when Ryan Spooner cashed in 52 seconds into that two-man advantage.
1-0 at the first intermission.
The Islanders had lots of zone time and control in the second period -- at one point keeping the puck in the Bruins zone for 1:40 over a couple of shifts and faceoffs -- but didn't threaten much beyond shots from outside and scrambles around Tuukka Rask's net.
Despite the pressure, no penalty calls were forthcoming and Brad Marchand delivered the next blow, deflecting in a rebound at the doorstep at 14:13.
Against a team that believes it lost its last two games due to poorly taken penalties, the Isles didn't receives a second power play until Maxim Talbot was whistled for hooking at 16:35 of the second period. But that power play was negated by a holding call on Frans Nielsen that none of the Islanders agreed with.
So the Isles entered the third period down 2-0 and no less frustrated than when they entered the game.
Casey Cizikas had a golden opportunity on a 3-on-1 -- against the very fabric of a Claude Julien team with a two-goal third-period lead. Cizikas created space that left him free to shoot from the slot, but Rask got a enough of the shot aimed to the glove side.
The Isles would get a few more power plays to salvage something, but largely looked out of ideas. The Isles had possession but little decision-making on a power play after Cal Clutterbuck made the most of a crosscheck he received in front of the Bruins net.
Their best chances came on a 5-on-3 -- but even that one ominously began with a Bruins zone clear. Still, after the Isles regained the zone they moved it around the Bruins' triangle until Johnny Boychuk finally broke through with a blasted shot that went in off the post to Rask's left.
Some late 4-on-4 play came after fourth-line pressure where every Bruins' assignment was to hogtie an Islander headed toward the net. Matt Martin and Adam McQuaid were each sent off for rasslin' behind the net.
But nothing more was to come, and the slump carries on. The key in this one was falling behind on the 5-on-3 in the first and failing to convert on their pressure in the second. By the end, the Isles had outshot the Bruins 37-27, but that was due to the third-period push (13-6 shots, plus ample power play time) to try to erase the 2-0 deficit.