Five minutes and four goals. That’s the story of the game, as the New York Islanders looked fatigued in the first period and left Thomas Greiss out to dry. After a horrendous period, the Isles settled the game down somewhat, but were unable to come back from an early deficit, losing 5-2 in Calgary.
An afternoon away game against the streaking Calgary Flames following a back-to-back series was never going to be easy, but with the Isles’ playoff status still in question, this game, like all the others on this road trip, was crucial. With Toronto and Florida off until Tuesday, this game was an opportunity to widen the gap in an extremely tight playoff race. The Islanders failed to make an effort for all 60 minutes of the hockey game, and left the Saddledome empty handed.
The Islanders flat-out didn’t show up to play in the first period, getting outworked at every opportunity. Despite what looked visibly like a back and forth game, it was apparent that the Flames were getting better scoring chances than the Isles, but Thomas Greiss did his best to keep the Isles in the game. Until the last five minutes of the period.
Michael Frolik, T.J. Brodie, Micheal Ferland, and Sean Monahan all scored in rapid succession, due to defensive zone breakdowns and some poor reactions by Greiss. A lot of people turned to the fact that Greiss has been starting too many games, including both games of the back-to-back that ended just two days ago, but ultimately there was little any goalie could do with the team’s poor performance. The Flames outshot the Islanders 21-8 in the period, and Greiss was replaced by J.F. Berube for the second.
The Islanders played a little better in the second period, with Ryan Strome making a nifty move around a defender and then almost beating Brian Elliott, but he was up to the challenge. The Isles would get on the board this period, after a four-on-four opportunity gave them some zone time. Scott Mayfield took a shot from the point that Josh Bailey was able to redirect to John Tavares, who put it past Elliott, making it 4-1.
About seven minutes into the third, it became apparent that this was just one of those games. Travis Hamonic and Josh Ho-Sang collided while trying to retrieve the puck, sending Calgary on a three-on-one, that Kris Versteeg scored on to restore the Flames’ four goal lead.
A few minutes later, Jason Chimera scored the Islanders’ second of the night, but it was too little, too late.
Despite a two man advantage late in the period, the Islanders were unable to score again, and the Flames won the game 5-2.
They were never going to be perfect on this road trip, but two straight games with poor performances is a bad sign going forward. The Isles aren’t going to win many games if they have to rely on an overworked Thomas Greiss, so hopefully the offense can start clicking again as their road trip continues. After the first period, Doug Weight switched up the lines to get everyone going, so it’ll be interesting to see if any of those remain or if the regular line combinations return for the next game.
On Tuesday, the New York Islanders face the Edmonton Oilers in their new home. Led by young superstar Connor McDavid, the Oilers look poised to make a playoff berth for the first time since 2006. These aren’t the Oilers of the past decade, and they’ll be a tough test for a rebound game.