Trotz wants Islanders to follow Caps’ lead
Receives Stanley Cup ring prior to 4-1 loss against former squad
Barry Trotz believes the New York Islanders have a Stanley Cup in their future.
But for now, his new team is still more than a little bit behind the development of the franchise he led to its first-ever title a season ago.
“That’s what champions do. They find ways to get it done. And we will get there,” the Islanders’ first-year head coach insisted in the aftermath of a 4-1 loss to the reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals Monday night in front of 9,072 at the Barclays Center.
Trotz, who left Washington following a contract dispute just days after the Capitals captured their long sought-after championship, received his Stanley Cup ring prior to Monday night’s showdown in Downtown Brooklyn.
He then watched as his former players taught his new ones a lesson in special teams, opportunism and, most importantly, winning.
“They had opportunities; we had opportunities and power plays where we had to take control of the game and we weren’t able to get that done,” Trotz lamented after the Isles went 0-for-4 with the man advantage, marking the fifth consecutive game they have failed to produce a power-play goal.
Veteran center Valtteri Filppula got New York on the board first against the Metropolitan Division leaders, potting his seventh goal on just his 20th shot of the year and the Isles’ first of the game just 36 seconds into play.
But Tom Wilson beat New York netminder Thomas Greiss just over two minutes later for the equalizer and added a game-clinching power-play tally in the third to spearhead Trotz’s former team to its sixth straight win and a five-point bulge over the Isles in the Metro standings.
“We were a little tentative to start, we gave them a lot of respect and too much space,” Isles captain Anders Lee ceded after New York had its modest two-game winning streak snapped, falling to 9-2-0 against division rivals thus far this year.
“After we scored first, good response by them,” Lee said.
Nic Dowd’s second-period goal put Washington ahead to stay and Alex Ovechkin added an empty-netter after Wilson’s back-breaking goal in the third, leaving the Isles to pick up the pieces prior to Thursday night’s trip to Boston to take on the Bruins.
“In the second and third we had our chances, we had our power plays, a couple of them were good and a couple of them were awful,” Lee said. “They got a big power-play goal.”
And the Isles couldn’t get much past Washington goalie Brandon Holtby, who stopped every one of New York’s 32 shots following Filppula’s early goal.
Trotz admitted that the Isles, fresh off Saturday’s home win over Carolina, may have come out a bit flat — even a bit awed — by the team he led past the Las Vegan Golden Knights in last year’s Finals.
“I didn’t feel we had as much juice as we did against Carolina and the other games,” Trotz said. “We didn’t have the legs under us that we usually have when we’re fresh.”
Nor did they display the type of wherewithal it takes to fight back from a deficit against one of the NHL’s best teams. That’s something Trotz hopes to teach them over the course of the season, just as he did in Washington.
Isle Have Another: Greiss finished with 20 saves Monday night, dropping his season record to 8-4-1. … The Isles got some good news on the injury front prior to facing the Capitals as injured veteran forward Matt Martin returned to action for the first time in 10 games due to an upper-body injury and Casey Cizikas began practicing with the team again after going down two weeks ago with a lower-body injury. “[Cizikas] skated on his own, and then he joined the group and then from there you’re either in the lineup or you get cleared,” Trotz said. “Going to see how he feels today; he felt great yesterday.” Martin skated just under nine minutes against the Caps and used his physicality to deliver a team-high eight hits. “I felt pretty good,” Martin said. “First few shifts feel a little fast when you’re out as long as I was, but settled in nicely.” … After visiting the Bruins Thursday, the Isles (12-9-6, 26 points) will host second-place Columbus (14-8-2, 30 points) in their return to the renovated Nassau Coliseum Saturday before taking on Winnipeg at Barclays next Tuesday.