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Sharks 5, Islanders 4 (OT): Latest blown third-period lead is a big one

This stupid, stupid, stupid team.

San Jose Sharks v New York Islanders
What’s tonight’s excuse?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Coming off a couple of scares on the road that turned into unlikely wins, the New York Islanders had a chance to start a six-game homestand on the right foot.

Once again, into the third period, it looked like they might, as they built a should-be-comfortable 4-1 lead. Instead, they gave up a preventable goal at the midway point of the third to give the San Jose Sharks hope, then two more by Tomas Hertl with the sixth attacker and thanks to some mind-bogglingly stupid defensive play.

An entertaining overtime was settled with five seconds remaining, William Eklund scoring on the rush through a screen to give the Sharks a 5-4 OT win and the Islanders another reason for their fans to despise them.

[NHL Gamecenter | Game Summary | Event Summary | Natural Stat Trick]

Were there other highlights in the game? Yeah, before it all went south. We can briefly recall a few before the rage of the second half of the third period overcomes us:

Simon Holmstrom had another fine game, breaking his Cy Young bid by notching his first two assists of the season. The first came on the game’s first goal, a nice pull-up and pass across the slot to Julien Gauthier, who scored his second in a bid to stay in the lineup.

The second Holmstrom assist came shorthanded, early in the third to make it 3-1. He created a counterattack, lost the puck toward the offensive corner, but drew two and a half Sharks to him long enough to find a streaking Mike Reilly, skating from the bench. Reilly’s shot went high to give you the first sense that the Isles might not make this difficult.

A few minutes later, the Isles made it 4-1 at 8:27 when Reilly teed up Ryan Pulock for a 97 mph blast.

It should’ve been over, against the 32nd-place team, even one that gave the Smurfs a comeback scare the other night. But against the Islanders this season, it’s never over because they are always finding fresh ways to give the game back.

The Sharks pulled their goalie with almost four minutes to play, but they’d barely need half that to erase the remaining two-goal deficit. The Islanders inexplicably played against the sixth attacker like they were playing 4-on-5, completely passive in coverage whether their legs were fresh or worn.

After giving up the 4-3 goal that admittedly took a couple of Sharks-friendly bounces, tonight’s “WTF ARE YOU DOING?!” Award goes to Scott Mayfield, who had the weakest, easily intercepted clear attempt up the right wing boards on the tying goal. Then he coasted back toward the net and took himself and J-G Pageau out of position as an uncovered Tomas Hertl completed his hat trick. Mayfield was in a heap behind the net, two other Isles were chasing one side of the net, and Hertl was all “Oh, again? Sure I’ll take this. Y’all are so generous.”

This team’s defensemen appear to be completely clueless how to simply clear the zone, and it’s maddening. There was still 90 seconds to play after it was 4-4 — enough for the Islanders to blow both points like they did in Newark — but they survived that long enough to be booed at the end of regulation.

They deserved it.


The Isles had some frightening giveaways in overtime to keep the anxious fans angry, but they also hit a bar (Bo Horvat), a post (Noah Dobson) and got another nice look from the high slot (Barzal), while Dobson and Horvat each also had decent chances on counterattack rushes.

But the final rush went to the Sharks, the worst team in the league, who turned a three-goal third-period deficit into an overtime win.

Again, the Islanders deserved their fate.

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