Running on Empty
Isles lose 5-2 to Carolina; Winless streak reaches five
Good Morning, Islanders Country.
If you were an Islanders alum, this was a great weekend. If you are a current Islander or Islanders fan, not so much.
The Islanders are emotionally, mentally, and physically spent. “The tanks are a little low at times,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said after Sunday’s loss. Take a condensed schedule, mix in falling out of playoff contention and sprinkle it with a lot of 100-point teams with something to play for and this is what you get. Ok, that still doesn’t explain losing to Buffalo but I regress. At least, Sunday’s loss hurt the Rangers’ chances of winning the division, so there’s that.
Coming up, with heavy hearts, the Isles celebrated Alumni Weekend and picked up a win against some former rivals. Plus, some good and some bad from Noah Dobson this weekend, Bridgeport is headed to the Calder Trophy playoffs and we remember a great post-dynasty moment - and I think it's okay to talk about it (but I could be wrong). But first, a recap of yesterday’s loss.
Let’s dive in.
🏒 IN SHORT: Max Domi scored the go-ahead goal in the third period as the Carolina Hurricanes (52-20-8) defeated the Islanders 5-2 at UBS Arena on Sunday afternoon. Ross Johnston and Ryan Pulock scored, and Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves for the Islanders (35-34-10), who have lost five in a row (0-4-1). Pyotr Kochetkov made seven saves in relief of Antti Raanta to give the Hurricanes their fourth consecutive victory. Raanta left the game at 12:57 of the second after making 17 saves. Carolina now leads the Rangers by four points in the race for the Metropolitan Division [BOX].
🔑 KEY MOMENT(s):
🔻 Carolina’s Derek Stepan took advantage of an egregious turnover by Noah Dobson and opened the scoring on the Hurricane’s first shot of the game, by stealing the puck and snapping a shot past Semyon Varlamov at 2:55.
🔷 These might be the final games of Zdeno Chara’s Hall of Fame career and on Sunday he reminded us all one more time, that he is one of the toughest, strongest, and baddest to ever play the game when took on three Hurricanes.
🔻 Max Domi gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead 5:40 into the third period, beating Varlamov after Teuvo Teravainen’s pass from behind the net found him open in the slot. The goal was Domi’s 11th of the season.
❶ LOSSES PILING UP: "Right now we dropped two in a row and then come in today and play a good game and find a way to lose this one as well," Matt Martin said. "When losses start piling up that's when the season can turn on you pretty quickly. We just have to get back to what we do best as individuals, as lines and then as a team can all come together."
❷ BATTLED BACK: "I thought we played them straight up," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "Today through two periods I thought we were really quite good even though we had one turnover that put us behind the eight ball, I thought we battled back… There are still cracks in our game and in the third period they kicked it up to a pretty good level."
❸ TRADITION: "It was good to see them," Barry Trotz said of the alumni. "There's a lot of names and faces and I remember they look a little different. We all do. I keep thinking they have long hair, but it was good. It was good for them. I think that is something that should always be done especially with this franchise, which has such a great fan base and such a good tradition."
⏭ NEXT UP: The Islanders travel to Washington DC on Tuesday to take on the Capitals in their final road game of the season. Puck drop is at 7 p.m
📰 NEWS: There was only one lineup change on Sunday from Saturday in Buffalo. Anders Lee played alongside Otto Koivula and Oliver Wahlstrom while Kieffer Bellows played alongside Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson.
◾️ Casey Cizikas picked up a secondary assist on Ross Johnston’s first-period goal for his 200th career point.
◾️ One of the best things Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have done in recent years is the annual Alumni Weekend event celebrating Islanders’ history. This year had a somber backdrop with the recent passings of Clark Gillies, Jean Potvin, and Mike Bossy. As Bryan Trottier told Shannon Hogan on the MSG Broadcast, while the feelings are still “tender and raw” there’s strength being with his hockey family and those lost are here in spirit, and will always be in their hearts.
◾️ Brendan Burke is still on the mend catching the games from his couch (while eating sandwiches from the Blueline Deli per his Instagram account) and on Sunday, the Islanders had plenty of reinforcements at UBS Arena with both Jiggs McDonald and Howie Rose attending the alumni festivities as Alan Fuehring handled play-by-play. During the broadcast, Rose shared his memories of a young Burke and the process that led to his recommendation for Burke to replace him as Islanders TV announcer.
◾️ On Saturday in East Meadow, the Islanders alumni defeated the New York Rangers alumni 9-8 in a shootout. The charity game raised funds for the Northwell Health Foundation. Islanders alumni in attendance included Pierre Turgeon, Benoit Hogue, Darius Kasparaitis, Mariusz Czerkawski, Eric Cairns, and Radek Martinek. To get sentimental, watch Turgeon score in the shootout.
◾️The Bridgeport Islanders clinched a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs with a 4-2 win over Springfield on Friday night. The B-Isles needed to win and have three other results go their way - and they all did. The game also marked the AHL debut of Aatu Räty, the Isles’ 52nd overall back in the 2021 NHL Draft.
◾️Barry Trotz gave no indication over the weekend whether Kieffer Bellows or Oliver Wahlstrom are candidates to be part of Bridgeport’s playoff run at the end of the Isles season.
◾️ VALUABLE EXPERIENCE: “It’s important,” Trotz said of getting AHL playoff experience. “I’m a big believer in, if you can win in the minors, those players are the guys that are coming up, they’re used to playing in the playoffs, they’re winners. They get that experience at a different level but still the experience of intense playoff hockey. You can’t take a break in playoff hockey.”
📚 SOUND SMART: Per Eric Hornick in The Skinny, Noah Dobson has 47 points on the season following his multi-point game Saturday in Buffalo. No Islander defenseman has had 50 points since Mark Streit’s 56 in 2008-09. Dobson needs two points to become the youngest Islander defenseman since Denis Potvin with at least 49 points in a season. Dobson is the first Islander defenseman in 13 years to score at least 12 goals.
🗓 ISLE REMEMBER: On April 24, 2016, The Islanders' long playoff drought came to an end when John Tavares scored at 10:41 of 2OT to defeat Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers 2-1 at Barclays Center and win the best-of-seven series four games to two. Thomas Greiss finished with 41 saves in the team's second straight 2OT game and third OT win of the series.
🔗 Barry Trotz has to reel in his frustrated players in Islanders' loss to Hurricanes by Andrew Gross, Newsday “Kieffer Bellows skated to the Islanders’ bench frustrated because he thought he had drawn a penalty but no whistle blew. He considered slamming his stick against the glass. Once he settled on the bench, veteran Casey Cizikas told him, “Hey, get it under control.” “I thought it was a little bit of an overreaction by Kieffer,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said after Sunday afternoon’s 5-2 loss to the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes at UBS Arena. “Guys are going to get in your face. This is not shinny. You’ve got to keep your emotions and your focus in check.”
🔗 Islanders and Rangers alumni play a game for charity and good times by Denis P. Gorman, Newsday “One of the recurring themes over the course of the near 50-year Rangers-Islanders rivalry is just how uniquely eccentric it has been. But even in a series that has been dotted with odd moments, this was strange. There weren’t any fights. Cross words were not uttered. Dirty looks were non-existent. Instead, this iteration of The Rivalry was remarkable for the smiles, the mutual respect, its good-naturedness.”
And we leave you with this…the Islanders presented Head Equipment Manager, Scott Boggs, a commemorative stick for working his 2,000th NHL game behind the Islanders bench last week in Montréal.
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