Isles performance ‘unacceptable’ to Tavares following loss to Toronto
Tavares disappointed in Islanders' two-game slide since break
When The Captain speaks, the Islanders must listen.
Otherwise, a second straight season on the outside looking in at the playoffs is more than likely for this slumping bunch.
“It’s unacceptable the level we’re playing at,” Islanders team captain John Tavares said following Wednesday night’s dismal 5-0 blanking at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of a sellout crowd of 19,267 at the Air Canada Centre.
“You’re not going to win hockey games or really be in it the way we’ve played the last two nights.”
After getting dominated in Tuesday night’s 4-1 home loss to Florida, the Isles (25-22-5) were eager to get back at it in Tavares’ native Toronto.
But the results were eerily similar, if not worse, as New York continued to make mistakes in its own end in front of netminder Thomas Greiss, who made his first start since a 5-4 overtime victory in Montreal on Jan. 15.
Greiss managed to stop 45 shots, but Kasperi Kapanen opened the scoring at 5:37 of the opening period and the Isles never responded en route to their first shutout loss since Jan. 5.
Superstar Auston Matthews, rookies Travis Dermott and Justin Holl and Mitch Marner also scored for Toronto, which added 50 to New York’s NHL-leading shots-allowed total of 1,826 through 52 games.
“We were just out of sync, late on the forecheck, not managing the puck very well,” admitted veteran Isles forward Andrew Ladd, who was back in the lineup after missing the previous nine games with an upper-body injury.
“I didn’t mind our first period,” he added. “We were skating on the puck and then just weren’t able to sustain a forecheck the rest of the night.”
Tavares, who had five of New York’s 28 shots against Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen, has watched the Isles slip a point behind Philadelphia for the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference following this two-game skid.
“We came off a really good road trip and it’s disappointing the way we followed it up,” Tavares said of the Isles’ modest 2-0-1 run prior to last weekend’s All-Star Break.
“Andersen was superb tonight,” Isles head coach Doug Weight added. “Looking back we had some really good chances we missed the net on and they got a couple bounces, but give them credit they played really well. They put a lot towards our goaltender.”
The Isles are also in a deadlock with the archrival New York Rangers at 55 points apiece, and will get a chance to move back up into the postseason picture Saturday night against Columbus at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
Unless, of course, The Captain’s words fall on deaf ears.
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