The New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks took turn scoring goals all Thursday night, but the music stopped, as you might have predicted it would, after the Blackhawks got the last tally off a back-breaking turnover and fortunate bounce.
For the game winner, Richard Panik pounced on a puck in the slot with six minutes left in regulation of a 4-4 game.
Marcus Kruger hounded Dennis Seidenberg behind the net on the forecheck long enough to pop the puck loose, an alert Dennis Rasumussen was there to send the puck to the front of the net, where it bounced off Thomas Greiss’ pad and went straight to Panik, who rifled it home before Greiss could react.
Believe it or not, the Islanders were actually pretty good at even strength on this night, and arguably deserved better. But they were carved to pieces by the Blackhawks power play, which converted all three of its chances with tic-tac-toe rhythm and military precision.
Making matters worse, the Islanders’ 29th-ranked power play failed to take advantage of Chicago’s 30th-place penalty kill on two futile opportunities.
For the record, the first period was peak entertainment and also inevitable frustration: The Islanders jumped to a 2-0 lead with goals by ex-Hawk Andrew Ladd and Casey Cizikas a minute and a half apart, then coughed up that lead and fell behind 3-2, and finally reached intermission tied at 3-3 after Ryan Strome scored his first goal in a couple of moons.
The second period spread that theme out in a different way: Anders Lee gave the Isles a 4-3 lead just 22 seconds into the period, and the Isles held that for sooooo long...until they gave up yet another power play goal with under 20 seconds remaining in the period.
They outshot the Hawks 14-7 in that period -- that’s where maybe they deserved better — but this isn’t that kind of season. The low points are really low, and even the good efforts blow up in their face half the time.
Still, the Isles were outplayed in the third period and although it felt like maybe they deserved to get at least a point out of this, Panik struck and put an end to that.
The loss keeps the Isles in last place in the East and just four points above the basement of the league. As a reminder, lottery odds are much worse for bad teams these days.
In Which Tavares Starts Picking Off His Wingers
“Get a real winger for Tavares,” they say.