The game started didn't start off all that well with the Predators getting the puck into the Islanders zone with relative ease. Thomas Greiss made a save that should have been made relatively easy, but the rebound got away from him. Fortunately no Predators were there for any rebound. Nashville really kept the pressure on and the Islanders didn't get any great chances for the first three minutes or so save for a two-on-one featuring Jason Chimera and Alan Quine which saw Chimera's shot sail over the net.
The tides quickly turned shortly thereafter. Juuse Saros was forced to cover and and the Islanders forecheck established momentum themselves, though their looks didn't look quite as good as Nashville's did early on. Shots attempts were 12 to five heading into the first commercial break with Saros and Greiss stopping seven and three shots respectively and the score tied at zero.
P.K. Subban got control of the puck out of the commercial break and made some nifty maneuvers, but deked his man offside. The Predators took control from there and Calle Jarnkrok tipped Ryan Ellis' shot from the point and it looked like the Predators had the first goal. Fortunately for the Islanders Kevin Fiala was blatantly offside and the goal was overturned.
Play went back and forth for a bit and the Islanders got caught deep in Nashville's zone. Fiala made them pay for the mistake right around the ten minute mark 10:17 into the first period. Jarnkrok and Anthony Bitteto picked up the assists on the play.
Shortly thereafter the tandem of Thomas Hickey and Dennis Seidenberg got caught flatfooted by Viktor Arvidsson. He skated in with gusto and forced Hickey to take a slashing penalty 12:42 into the period which lead to the second commercial break of the first. Shot attempts were 15 to nine in favour of the Islanders, but shots were tied and the Predators had a one nil lead.
The Islanders managed to kill of the penalty out of the commercial break, but did not look good doing so. The Predators were really buzzing around the net. Fortunately for the Islanders puck bounced at least a couple times on Nashville and Greiss was able to make a couple of saves.
Adam Pelech broke into the Predators zone with about three minutes remaining and had perhaps the best chances of the period for the Islanders. He had three shots on Saros who left some juicy rebounds, but ultimately nobody couldn't slam it home. Alan Quine was obviously held, but the referees missed it leading to groans from the crowd. The period came to a relatively inoccuous close with the Islanders trailing by a goal.
The second period started off horribly with John Tavares losing control of the puck in the defensive zone and the Seidenberg taking a bad tripping penalty only 29 seconds in. Calvin de Haan tried to get the puck to a breaking Tavares on the penalty kill, but it was cut off by Roman Josi and nearly lead to disaster. Ultimately the Predators got three shots on net, but failed to convert on their opportunity.
The Predators went offside, but would once capitalize on the ensuing faceoff. They got the puck in deep and the Islanders failed to get it out of the zone. Filip Forsberg got the puck to Arvidsson who completely uncovered down low. The goal was reviewed as it looked like it might have gone off a skate, but it was obviously off the stick and a good goal.
Play went back and forth for a bit. Brock Nelson made a very nifty move to get a wrap around attempt, but was denied by Saros. De Haan got control of the puck and was slashed by Forsberg which gave the Islanders their first power play of the game 6:09 into the second. They had control for nearly the entire power play and while they had a few good looks, it still looked a bit tentative and they didn't manage to capitalize.
Greiss got ran by Fiala around 11 minutes in. Travis Hamonic took exception, pinning Fiala to the ice. Colton Sissons got involved and all three ultimately wound up with penalties and the Islanders got another power play with 10:40 remaining in the period.
The power play started off sloppy and Ellis nearly had a breakaway, but Joshua Ho-Sang was able to keep up with him and Greiss was able to make the save. The second unit came out and almost immediately let up a two-on-one which forced Greiss to make an astounding save. The boos birds came out as a very poor power play where the goalie was the best player came to an end.
Some lackluster play out of the power play lead to a stoppage and a television time out. At this point the Islanders were being outshot and outattempted with their season on the line and really weren't getting anything going offensively. Scoring chances favoured the Predators.
Quine went offside and took a puck to the face. He was forced to come off the ice by the referees despite his objection apparently due to some blood underneath his shirt. The Islanders used that slight time to seemingly recouperate and started to pick up play.
The top lines were getting shots off left and right for the Islanders. They managed to hit a few posts in the process and were beginning to look a lot better. Opportunities were there, but nothing was going in and it looked like they were completely snakebitten until Josh bailey made a nice tip off of a Nick Leddy shot.
It looked like the Islanders had some momentum, but the Predators quickly took control again with about a minute and a half left. Greiss made a diving stick save to stop a wrap around to keep the deficit at one. They managed to clear the puck with about 20 seconds left and Chimera tried to get the puck from Subban with a few seconds left, but took a pretty obvious holding penalty behind the Predators net. Subban kept possession for the remainder of the period and would have a full two minute power play on fresh ice to start the third.
Casey Cizikas took the opening faceoff and the Islanders were able to clear and kill a few seconds off of the Chimera penalty. The Predators took control and things started looking dicey for the Islanders as the Predators were letting off some bombs from the point. Ultimately they were able to kill off the penalty with Greiss making a couple of saves.
The Islanders had the better play for the next couple of minutes. Eventually that lead to an offensive zone faceoff, but a cheating Vernon Fiddler won the faceoff from Stephen Gionta and the Predators took down the ice. Some incredibly lackluster defense by Seidenberg lead to a decent opportunity for Nashville, but Greiss made the save.
The Tavares line managed to break out and Bailey made a great pass to a breaking de Haan in the slot, but Saros managed to get the pad down to make the save. Cal Clutterbuck had a decent opportunity only a few moments later which lead to Saros making the old coconut save. The whole team was buzzing for the better part of the next six minutes, but they couldn't quite knot it up.
The game came out of the post ten minute commercial break and the Predators got the better of possession. Greiss had to make a few saves. It seems as though the Predators were the much sharper team coming out of the commercial breaks as the Islanders had more than a few blunders all night long coming out of them.
Nashville's defense at this point of the game was starting to look stifling. The Islanders had nothing going on their cycles in the Nashville zone and they were forced into nothing but odd-angle shots - as noted by Chickendirt, they looked like a team of Trent Hunters. They had a break when a lost stick lead to a brief five-on-four, but Subban made a great play to intercept the puck down low.
Play dwindled down to the last couple of minutes and Greiss went off for the extra attackers. Anthony Beauvillier, Andrew Ladd, Tavares, Bailey, Leddy and Seidenberg started off out there until the puck was covered. They then went to Tavares, Lee, Ladd, Leddy, and Ho-Sang. They made a valient effort, but Tavares had his shot blocked and Ellis flipped the puck to a cherry-picking Ryan Johansen to seal the deal.
The remaining 24 seconds were pretty uneventful. The Islanders fall to the predators by a score of three to one. With no games in hand they remain two points back of the Boston Bruins who have the tie breaker.
Post Game Points
- Somehow the scoring chances were even tonight and possession was very close at even strength. While no power play goals were scored in this one, special teams really killed any momentum the Islanders were building up.
- Bailey was easily the best Islander player on the ice tonight - he put up the lone goal, had some terrific passes, and lead the team in possession.
- The pairing of Seidenberg and Hickey was bloody awful all night long - they were falling out of position and did not look good.
- Greiss was ultimately the reason that they were in this game. Saros was ultimately the reason they lost. When a team has a goalie that’s as good as the guy the Islanders have going for them, there’s a good chance the Islanders take the loss.
- The tandem of Hickey and Scott Mayfield leads the Islanders defensive pairings with a +5.58% CFRel. The tandem of Hickey and Seidenberg is at -.33% and had played a total of less than 90 minutes together this season. Couple those with the fact that Mayfield leads the defense in possession and this decision is something less than questionable.
- There were concerns that Seidenberg would ultimately prevent Ryan Pulock from being called up. Whether or not that’s true might be up for debate, but that he got a chance in this game over a guy in Mayfield who has proven his worth is disappointing.