Isles looking for more ‘complete’ effort
Resume Extended Homestand Following Tough Loss to Sharks
The Islanders slogged around the ice for the first 20 minutes, picked up some steam during the second period and failed to finish strong against the defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks in front of a sparse announced crowd of 10,772 at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Tuesday night.
The effort, incomplete as it was, resulted in a 3-2 loss and dropped New York’s record to 1-3, leaving Islanders coach Jack Capuano to take aim at his team’s sporadic performance in the second contest of a five-game homestand.
“You have to be consistent putting pucks on net,” Capuano insisted after the Isles were outshot, 27-23, managing to get only two pucks past San Jose rookie goaltender Aaron Dell, who picked up the win in his NHL debut between the pipes.
“When you put pucks on net, you retrieve those pucks and then you get some extensive zone time,” Capuano added.
The Isles sprang to life after being outshot 10-4 in the opening stanza, getting goals from rookie Anthony Beauvillier and veteran forward Anders Lee. But their 2-1 lead lasted only seven minutes as Thomas Hertl lit the lamp for San Jose with just 1:57 remaining in the second period.
The game appeared headed for overtime as time wound down in an uneventful third period, but Joe Pavelski sent Islander fans scurrying for the LIRR station with the game-winning goal off assists from Joe Thornton and Brent Burns with 2:11 left in regulation.
John Tavares and Josh Bailey had assists on Beauvillier’s first career tally, helping the 19-year-old former first-round pick knot the contest at 1-1 midway through the second period. Lee followed two minutes later with his first of the season off feeds from newly signed veteran forward Jason Chimera and Brock Nelson.
“I would have felt even better with a win,” said Beauvillier, who still has five games to play before the Isles decide whether he will stay with the big-league club or return to juniors. “I was pretty happy, I was pretty excited and I couldn’t stop smiling on the bench.”
That smile was wiped away quickly as the Isles never built on the momentum of the two flash goals, instead lumbering around the ice chasing the more seasoned Sharks, who were eager to get the taste of a 7-4 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden out of their mouths.
“We have to play a complete game,” said Lee. “Our second period was really nice and I thought we controlled the play, but we were really sluggish in the first and they just had more of a push in the third.”
The Isles better push back in a hurry as Thursday night’s visit by the Arizona Coyotes will mark their fifth game in eight days to start the season.
Tavares indicated that the team might benefit from the day off Wednesday, but veteran defenseman Travis Hamonic wasn’t buying into the fatigue factor playing a role in the team’s third defeat in four games.
“We can’t blame them for us not driving our legs collectively as a unit all over the ice,” Hamonic said. “We were a bit slow to pucks early on and probably until early in the second period when [Beauvillier] got us on the board.”
Jaroslav Halak, who picked up the win in Sunday evening’s 3-2 overtime home victory against Anaheim, made 24 saves in his third start of the season after missing most of the exhibition slate while competing with Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey.
Following Thursday’s game against the Coyotes, the Isles will host Minnesota here on Sunday before the Montreal Canadiens visit Brooklyn next Wednesday.
New York will play 10 of 11 games at Barclays during this Brooklyn-centric stretch of the schedule, with a pit stop scheduled for Pittsburgh on Oct. 27 to split up the two five-game stands.
Though they went 25-11-5 during their first season on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, including a near-perfect 13-0-2 mark against Western Conference opponents, it will take a lot more than one solid period per game to replicate that type of home success going forward.
“We’re there 2-2 and we didn’t get the bounce in the third,” Capuano lamented.
Isle Have Another: The Isles have killed off 14 of 15 power-play opportunities in their first four games … Beauvillier became the youngest Islander to score his first career goal since then-18-year-old Nino Niederreiter achieved the feat on Oct. 13, 2010 against Washington … Tavares and Nelson each had a team-high three shots on goal against San Jose … Mathew Barzal, the other 19-year-old the Isles placed on the season-opening roster alongside Beauvillier, was a healthy scratch from Tuesday’s game. Barzal has played only once in the first four contests. Capuano and general manager Garth Snow will evaluate the performances of both young prospects before making a decision as to whether they will be offered minimum-level NHL contracts or return to their respective junior squads following the first nine games of the season.
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