Isles suffer “throw away” loss to Lightning
Greiss, Halak Both Struggle in Ugly 6-1 Drubbing Against Tampa Bay
There were calls for the coach’s job, two dismal goaltending performances and a team-wide malaise that left the 10,822 Islander fans gathered at Downtown’s Barclays Center deeply disenchanted.
Isles head coach Jack Capuano heard the “Fire Cappy!” chants during Tuesday night’s ugly 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but might have bigger problems after watching Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak surrender three goals apiece in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened,” admitted Capuano of the hostile crowd reaction. “I don’t concentrate on that … It’s one game you throw away.”
With the slumping Brooklyn NHL squad slipping to 4-6 overall with losses in three of its last four games, the seventh-year Isles coach has plenty of other problems to deal with, including a previously solid penalty-killing unit that surrendered two first-period tallies with the man advantage following a pair of five-minute majors on defenseman Calvin de Haan.
“We took the penalty and it just snowballed,” Capuano said of his team’s most lopsided loss of the young season.
“We gave up the two power-play goals and gave up a short-handed goal and probably could have given up another short-handed on the breakaway. Special teams was a huge factor in tonight’s game for me.”
So was the team’s ongoing goaltending situation, which got a bit cloudier when newly installed starter Greiss, making his fourth start in five contests, was riddled for three goals on Tampa Bay’s first 11 shots.
Halak, whose agent has made it clear that the 31-year-old veteran isn’t happy sitting behind Greiss, both during games and in practice, didn’t exactly make a case for being re-installed as the primary starter, giving up three goals of his own on 25 shots over the final 45 minutes.
The sub-par effort also may not have aided Isles general manager Garth Snow’s efforts to get Halak out of Brooklyn via trade.
”They just kept coming and we certainly didn’t answer,” Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic said. ”It’s certainly a frustrating night for everybody collectively. We have a quick turnaround. It’s a long year. We’ll [get] right back on it.”
New York may want to shake things up by starting third-string goalie Jean-Francois Berube tonight here against Philadelphia.
Otherwise, it’s up to Capuano to decide if Halak or Greiss is best-suited to get the struggling Isles going again.
But team captain John Tavares told Newsday earlier this week that the Isles have much more to focus on than who will be between the pipes going forward.
“There’s enough to worry about getting ready to play games,” Tavares said. “The [goaltender] situation is what it is. Everyone has to be prepared to play and do what they can to be ready. We need everybody in this room if we’re going to accomplish what we want to this season.”
Following six consecutive Tampa Bay goals to start the contest, the Isles finally got on the board with 30 seconds remaining in the second period as veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg picked up his third goal of the year off assists from Tavares and de Haan.
As the half-filled building continued to empty during a dreary third period of inaction, the Isles had to hear the fans’ displeasure with Capuano and the overall effort of the team.
But as Capuano indicated, that will only change if the Isles lift themselves out of this early season slump and re-emerge as serious contenders, as they appeared to be following a tough five-game series with this same Tampa Bay squad during the playoffs last spring.
“I know what we’ve done the last three years,” Capuano noted. “I know the points we have. I know what our record is. I know what our coaching staff can do. [The fan reaction] has no effect on me, nor on the team.”
“You always try to learn from [a bad loss], but it’s a long season and we have a lot of games coming up,” Tavares added. “We just have to put it behind us, get better tomorrow and be ready to play Thursday.”
Isle Have Another: The Islanders have had a defenseman score in six consecutive games, their longest such streak in nearly three decades … In last year’s playoffs, Tampa topped New York four games to one, but two of the losses occurred via overtime defeat here at Barclays Center … Tavares’ assist Tuesday upped his season point total to eight, including a team-high four goals. Brock Nelson leads the Isles with nine points (three goals, six assists) … Tonight’s game against Philadelphia will be the third of a five-game homestand. New York is in the midst of playing 10 of 11 games here in Brooklyn, and are 4-3 thus far on home ice this season … After hosting the Flyers, the Isles will welcome Edmonton here on Saturday before hosting Vancouver Monday in the finale of the homestand.
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