The New York Islanders outplayed the Detroit Red Wings for two periods Tuesday in Brooklyn but let the visitors hang around and paid the price. Not even a regulation point was salvaged after the Isles were tied 3-3 entering the third period despite outshooting the Wings by a 3-1 ratio.
Two goals in the final 10 minutes put the Islanders behind and then some, with an empty netter sealing a 6-3 loss. Petr Mrazek was hardly stellar for the Wings, but Thomas Greiss gave up five goals on 21 shots.
To be fair, most of the Red Wings goals were placed with marksman accuracy. But that’s a recurring story for a high-octane team held back by its collective defense and porous goaltending.
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First Period: Back and forth
The Islanders opened the game with all lines rolling, logging the first six shots on goal. A breakthrough came when John Tavares won the forecheck on a Josh Bailey dump-in and wheeled a pass to Anders Lee, who himself wheeled in the low slot to beat Mrazek and open the scoring at 6:32.
That lead lasted only three minutes, which kind of set the tone for the night and continued a recent theme for the team.
Jonathan Ericsson surveyed his options in the left wing corner and basically deflected the puck in off Martin Frk, who was softly covered by Scott Mayfield on the doorstep.
The Wings took the lead on a power play, this time with Henrik Zetterberg doing the setup. He drew one, two, three Islanders reaching toward him in the corner to buy space for a pass to Gustav Nyquist, whose sharp one-timer beat Greiss to the short side.
So the Wings reached the first intermission leading the Isles 2-1, and having closed the shots-on-goal gap to 9-6.
Second Period: Forth and back
But the Isles power play equalized early in the second. Ryan Pulock delivered on a traditional cannon one-timer off a high zone feed from Jordan Eberle.
.@rpulock with a HUGE— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 20, 2017
All tied up! 2-2. #LGI pic.twitter.com/fFCXLIMlVf
It took another 11 minutes for the Islanders to get the go-ahead goal they appeared to fully deserve. It again came on the power play, with Tavares and then Bailey doing well to prevent a clear.
Bailey zipped the puck over to Barzal on the doorstep, where he had trouble settling it. But it’s Barzal, so he just put the puck through his legs and calmly sent it across the crease. A couple of fortuitous caroms later, Bailey slapped the puck home for a 3-2 lead.
Barzy going between the legs to set Bails up for the PPG pic.twitter.com/84XcBJUkud— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 20, 2017
But they would not reach the second intermission holding that lead. Anthony Mantha tied it with under five minutes remaining, and the Isles and Thomas Greiss had the indignity of reaching the third period tied 3-3 while outshooting the Wings 32-10.
Third Period: There it goes
If it felt like a trap game, the trap was laid in agonizingly slow fashion.
The Islanders had the first opportunity to retake the lead in the third period, with Andrew Ladd racing in on a partial breakaway. He laced his wrist shot just wide and then was taken down leading to a hard collision into the end boards. Curiously no penalty was called on the play — the sliding defenseman didn’t disrupt the shot, but sure took Ladd down afterward.
Instead, things reached the midway point and started to slow down to have that “these teams are gonna play for OT” look until a collective Isles miscue gave the Wings new life.
The Isles had a bad change and poor coverage as Zetterberg dropped a pass high in the zone for Trevor Daley, whose screenshot found the top blocker-side corner past Greiss. The Wings were being outplayed, but they had a lead with just under 10 minutes to go.
After that, the Wings appeared to gain another step. They had some of their best shifts of the game and also pounced when the Isles pressed for an equalizer. Cal Clutterbuck couldn’t rescue Johnny Boychuk on a failed pinch, and the Wings rushed the other way. Dylan Larkin dove to get the puck up to Matt Green, who beat Greiss high glove-side corner.
The Islanders pulled Greiss for a sixth attacker, but they looked as hopeless as fans were after seeing the team down two goals in a game like this. Luke Glendening finished the job with an empty-net tap-in with 29 seconds to go.
The Ducks visit on Thursday. They pose a greater challenge than the Wings.
But before that, some news
Every Islanders fan has waited for
Let there be an end to the infinite
Madness, as at long last a quest that is
Over 35 years in the making finally(?) concludes when the
New York Islanders announce tomorrow they’ve secured a true home.
The end of this franchise’s permanent limbo is near. We swear.