The New York Islanders’ losing streak and jaw-dropping woes continued through the latest phase of a “crucially important” stretch of divisional games with a 4-0 shutout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It follows a loss to the Flyers last night and precedes what we’d surely bet will be a loss Sunday afternoon before heading into a five-day break.
Tonight’s extra dose of bad news: Josh Bailey left the game after just four shifts with a lower body injury.
Before we get started, let’s just call back to the graph used in last night’s sad news recap:
The Islanders had some good chances in the first period — Casey Cizikas with one of the best with a try at the doorstep stopped by Tristan Jarry, and the Isles center couldn’t reach the rebound — but were outplayed overall. They reached the intermission tied 0-0 but, in what feels like an increasing callback to the 2009-12 years, it felt like that was just luck followed by “just a matter of time...”
They don’t convert their early chances, and then they crumble when the other team strikes first (and second, and...). Maybe that’s part of what Doug Weight means when he talks about frailty and all that, but more accurately they are just really bad right now. Really bad.
Sure enough, the second period opened with a Penguins goal in the first minute. Sidney Crosby made a perfect play on a rinklong 2-on-1 rush to set up Daniel Sprong’s goal.
At 3:30 it was already 2-0 on some outstanding powerplay passing from the Penguins, this time with Evegeni Malkin finishing from the right wing circle off a cross-slot feed from Crosby.
Crosby hadn’t scored in eight games or something, but you knew he’d carve the Islanders up one way or the other — based on his history and their current run of horrendous form.
I know 2-0 is a small deficit — one easy to overcome for the Isles in the first third of the season even! — but it already felt like the game was done. Like the Penguins could try to pile on and turn it into a familiar laugher, or just play it safe for the rest of the night, as they also played last night in Pennsylvania.
But why take the easy way? Crosby naturally got a goal himself (and later, another assist), banking a shot in off Jaroslav Halak before the end of the second period.
The Islanders then received a little chance at getting back in with a 5-on-3 late in the second. No surprise, they did not convert.
I would say something more about the game but...why?
Sunday afternoon at home to the Devils. That should be fun.