If you were among those hoping the Islanders would finally put a full, game-length effort together in Nashville, your hopes mean nothing to this crew.
The Islanders lost 5-4 to the Predators, in a game where they somehow continued to hang on despite not putting together an effort worthy of the close margin.
While trailing and generally being outplayed, the Islanders also consistently conjured moments where they looked like they’d threaten to come back in the game. That included hitting five posts overall: Brock Nelson hit two, while Mathew Barzal, Scott Mayfield and Kyle Palmieri hit one each, but it would be wrong to blame this loss on poor luck.
First Period: Welp, it’s not gonna be a 60-minute effort
It was a weird game all around, and even though the Isles did not look like they came out ready to play, they recovered quickly, if briefly, after giving up the first goal early.
Ilya Sorokin was forced to make a number of saves as the Predators buzzed in the first minute before Filip Forsberg opened scoring at 1:03.
On the Isles’ lone early push, Adam Pelech was looking for a wide-open Kyle Palmieri at the doorstep but his pass bounced off a Predator skate and went in. That tied it 1-1 at 2:43.
The tie lasted all of six minutes, and the Islanders would spend the rest of the night playing from behind. Before the Predators regained the lead, the Isles killed a penalty to Oliver Wahlstrom, an overly presumptuous interference call.
A minute after the penalty expired, Colton “don’t call me Scott” Sissons deflected a nice pass on top of the crease, with J-G Pageau not defending him hard enough.
Just a minute after Sissons’ goal, Nino Niederreiter made it 3-1 when his pass to the slot for Roman Jose caromed off Noah Dobson’s skate and in.
The Isles were outshot 18-7 in the first period, and lucky to escape it trailing by only two.
Second Period: Not gonna be a 40-minute effort, either
In the second, it would get worse before it got better, as Juuso Parssinen extended the lead to 4-1 five minutes in. That seemed like the death knell, confirming that it wasn’t going to be the Islanders’ night. But maddening as this team is, they find ways to claw back in even on bad nights.
So the Islanders continued to look listless but they rose from the dead in the second half of the period. A good shift by the fourth line and an agile waltz along the blueline by Pelech got them to within two with 4:19 left. Pelech floated a shot from the point that was deflected by Matt Martin, then went in off Cal Clutterbuck’s knee.
The last goal was actually scored by Clutterbuck! pic.twitter.com/yAGnhTx6Zr— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 18, 2022
Oliver Wahlstrom had a great chance to get the Isles back within one on a breakaway, but Juuse Saros came out far to cut down the angle.
Third Period: You have sustained my interest
Whatever woke the Isles up late in the second continued into the third, when they outshot the Predators 16-3.
The Isles scored early to pull within one again after a quick transition the length of the ice. Kyle Palmieri finished a deflected feed from J-G Pageau, who had retrieved a dump from Alex Romanov. That made it 4-3, though the Predators restored their two-goal lead five minutes later on a power play goal by Parssinen.
With just under five minutes left, the Islanders inched closer yet again after Oliver Wahlstrom drew a penalty. Early in the power play, Barzal sent a shot that went behind the net, Anders Lee picked up the puck at the side of the net and shot between his legs, and Pageau banged in the rebound to make it 5-4. Make that 0 goals and 19 assists for Barzal on the year.
With the Isles pressing, Barzal took a bad high sticking penalty in the offensive zone while absorbing a check. That put the Isles a man short for two minutes of the final 2:50, and they did a good job pressing with Casey Cizikas coming closest to a shorthander.
When Barzal came out of the box, the Isles made one final push with Sorokin pulled for a sixth attacker, but the Predators mostly kept them to the outside.
#Isles Lane Lambert on another slow start:— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) November 18, 2022
"We weren't sharp out of the gate. If I had the answer, I'd let you know. But, you know, we have to be better."
#Isles Lane Lambert said he wanted Ross Johnston in tonight's lineup because of the matchup. So Johnston was in the lineup over Josh Bailey. But Lambert didn't give Johnston a shift after midway through second period because he needed more offense out of his forwards.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) November 18, 2022
They’re now 1-1 on the road trip. It should get increasingly tough, with a visit to Dallas Saturday and Toronto on Monday.