The New York Islanders were seconds away from at least a point to open an important four-game road trip and instead...they threw it away through a series of mind-boggling decisions.
A game that at one point looked like it would be the perfect 0-0 tribute to old friend Barry Trotz instead became a late blown lead followed by a backbreaking winner with seven seconds to go. The Nashville Predators added an empty-netter at the buzzer to seal the insult and a 3-1 loss for the Isles.
It was scoreless through two periods and a solid defensive effort from the Isles. Their opponent had traveled home for the second half of a back-to-back, so you’d think the third period was an opportunity for the Isles to assert themselves.
They did not do that — shots were 19-13 for the Isles in the first 40 minutes, they were outshot 15-6 in the third — but they did get a lead fairly late when J-G Pageau deflected a Noah Dobson pass from the point with eight minutes to go.
It was a nice sequence, and the 37th assist for Dobson:
So the Isles looked a good bet to at least get a point, but a clumsy Kyle Palmieri penalty after a failed zone exit put the Predators on the power play with 6:47 to go. Luke “don’t call me Linda” Evangelista, who drew the penalty, made the Isles pay through an Adam Pelech screen of Ilya Sorokin to make it 1-1.
Bummer, but nothing ruined here, right? ... yet.
I opened Lane Lambert's post-game presser by starting, "I can't imagine the feeling after playing that well for..."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) January 14, 2024
Lambert: "No, you can't."
Coach furious about way game ended with turnovers and trying to skate puck out of zone.
"Cardinal sin," he called it.
In the dying seconds, Matt Martin — who, again, was on the ice in the dying seconds — had an easy out up the left wing boards but was intercepted. The Predators kept it in and Filip Forsberg circled behind the net to get the Isles running around. He fed the point, and Alex Carrier walked in to unload a shot that broke Scott Mayfield’s stick and took an aerial hop over Sorokin.
Perhaps Martin was concerned that a clear up the boards wouldn’t get past the Preds defenseman — you could argue that Pageau or Mat Barzal weren’t offering Martin safe enough support here, but Pageau’s route is also what causes the Predators defenseman to back off the blueline and I’d like to think Barzal’s route was explicitly NOT inviting Martin’s dangerous pass. Either way, this can’t happen:
Andrew Gross of Newsday shared the money quote from Lane Lambert, a “calamity of errors.”
One more from Lane Lambert on ending of the game. "Calamity of errors."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) January 14, 2024
With seven seconds left, the Predators had their first lead. The game was a waste. The Isles pulled the Sorokin for a sixth attacker to begin the center faceoff, but they turned it over and allowed the Predators Juuso Parssinen to tack another one on.
It would’ve been easier to be happy about this had the Islanders made it to overtime, but nonetheless: this was a really nice interview aired between periods, a fine hello and how’s it going with old friend Barry Trotz, the former Isles coach and now the Predators GM, who is still missed by many:
You don’t have to view games and trips as little collective series, but it can help. Would’ve been great to begin this string with at least a point in Nashville. Now they head up through the polar vortex for a back-to-back in Minnesota and Winnipeg on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a trip-ender in Chicago.