If you missed it in the numbing frustration of the rest of the game, the Islanders' 2-1 Game 4 loss may have cost them more than a chance to grab control of the series: Ryan Pulock left with an injury, suffered on the shift when the Florida Panthers scored the winning goal.
Pulock was hunched over on the goal, though still able to clear his man, and it looked like he suffered an upper body injury, possibly arm or shoulder. The only word after the game was that he'll be evaluated Thursday:
No update on Pulock. Re-evaluated tomorrow. #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) April 21, 2016
Quotes and Quips
Other reactions after the game, via post-game footage and Isles PR transcripts...
First Period: Possibly the Worst of the Season
That's how Islanders coach Jack Capuano saw it.
"I think they understand the way we need to play but give Florida credit. They did a real good job in the first five minutes. They know the crowd's going to be great here, which it was. They are just want to get to the red line, chip pucks in and try to get the crowd out of it and play a good smart road game.
"You are not going to win many games when you score one goal and the same guys score. We gave up 22 shots even strength. I thought structurally we were pretty good. We didn't create much. We got one line (Tavares, Okposo, Nielsen) creating all of our offense right now. We have to find a way like we did in Florida when we had secondary scoring and the other night here when we had secondary scoring."
After that miserable period, the Isles shuffled their lines for a while to find some life. That included breaking up the much-hailed fourth line, which has had an ineffective series:
"They are fighting it right now. There's no question. They are fighting it. When we did split them up, I thought the other lines got going a little bit. We generated. In the third period, we put them back together just to see if we could reinvent some magic with those guys. But, everybody goes through a little bit of a tough stretch. Those guys have been there all year for us. Now, we go back on the road, line-up decisions because of the match-ups they are going to want."
Travis Hamonic on Moving Past This
"You have to turn the page whether it's a win or a loss. At this point in the season, you have no time to dwell on it, so you get right back at it. We just have to keep working. We know it's hard to win games this time of year. There are a lot of intangibles going on out there. We lose this one, but we get right back at it. We're really confident in our group and in our team that we can get the job done."
John Tavares Reflects
On what the Panthers are doing right:
"They use there size well and we got to overcome that. We've got to find ways to make it tough on them, not let them bog us down, slow down our game and obviously they got some guys who can make some plays, so we got to take away their time and space."
On what the Islanders are doing wrong:
"We didn’t have a great start and we just didn’t make it hard enough on them tonight. We had a great opportunity to get what we wanted and we didn’t do it. We're gonna have to go down there and get a win. We want to come back (home) up in the series. As disappointing as it is, we have to put it behind us and get ready for Friday."
"I don’t think it was a lack of effort, I just think we were a half a step too slow. We were not as quick as we were on the forecheck in the past couple games. We have to execute better. It’s not just one guy, it’s everyone supporting one another. It’s a five-man unit that has to be used.
Gerard Gallant Needs a Rulebook and a New Video Guy
The Panthers coach's challenge was a little perplexing after Jonathan Huberdeau's would-be goal was whistled dead -- so, never ruled a goal on the ice -- and did not withstand video review. It didn't seem he had anything within the coach's challenge rules (goalie interference or offside) to challenge, though no one can be faulted for wondering what the hell the NHL will decide its rules are on a given night. This is a league that spends five minutes reviewing the centimeters of a potential offside but lets players get away with post-whistle assault on the regular, except when it's randomly penalized.
Anyway, Gallant had help exacerbating the confusion, because if the Isles have one advantage in this series it must be their video coach:
"I still don’t understand it. I don’t know what the rule is exactly and they tried to explain it to me but I thought it was a good goal. My video guy was telling me 'it looks like a good goal to me’ and then there was really no call on the ice. The last I’d seen he was pointing to the puck in the net he didn’t make a call, good goal or no goal, so I wasn’t sure. My video guy was saying to challenge it, I challenged it and obviously it didn’t count."
No matter. The Panthers were unbothered and Gallant got a great effort from his team all night.
All 20, er 19, er really 18 of them:
"I think it was 20 guys guys desperate to play a real good hockey game. I thought that everybody played well tonight theres not one guy who didn’t work hard and compete. I thought our desperation was real good from the puck drop."
(Gallant dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, but seventh defenseman Jakub Kindl never saw the ice and might as well have played Go Fish with backup goalie Al Montoya.)
Finally, Gallant praised the arena: "The noise in the building tonight, and the game here tonight was outstanding and it's a great atmosphere."
Easy to say after you're team spent 60 minutes brilliantly and ruthlessly silencing them.
Roberto Luongo, once the future of the Isles lo so many stupid Milbury decisions ago, hit the nail on the head and maybe walks us back from the ledge after tonight's frustration for Islanders fans:
"These are two teams evenly matched. Every game has been tight, you guys see it. It's a really fine line between losing every game."
And that's why it hurts.