Isles suffer ‘lapse’ in return to Barclays
Allow two goals in 22-second span during 3-1 loss to Winnipeg
Barry Trotz described the Islanders’ long-awaited return to the renovated Nassau Coliseum over the weekend as “Saturday Night Fever.”
Following his team’s short trip back to Barclays Center two evenings later, New York’s head coach was feeling the “Tuesday Night Blues” in Downtown Brooklyn.
The playoff-hopeful Isles allowed two goals in a 22-second span of the third period, leading to an eventual 3-1 loss to the red-hot Winnipeg Jets in front of a sparse gathering of 9,125 fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
“I thought the crowd was fine. The building is a lot different. It’s not going to have the “Saturday Night Fever” that we had the other night,” Trotz noted, referring to the raucous crowd of 13,917 that rocked the new version of “The Old Barn” in Uniondale, N.Y., during a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Columbus.
With the Isles slated to play 20 of their final 28 home games at the Coliseum, Trotz wasn’t quite ready to blame the locale or lack of energy in the building for his team’s third-period meltdown Tuesday.
After Isles captain Anders Lee broke a scoreless deadlock with his team-high 10th goal of the season 93 seconds into the final stanza, New York gave the lead right back following a grabbing-the-stick penalty on reigning Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal.
Jacob Trouba capitalized with a power-play goal at the 3:39 mark and moments later Adam Lowry beat Thomas Greiss to make it 2-1 Winnipeg with 4:01 gone in the third period.
“I think we played a really solid game,” Trotz insisted. “[But] all of a sudden we’re down 2-1. There weren’t too many issues in the game. … We played well enough that we should have got a point. You have to collect points in this league.”
By not collecting any, the Isles (13-10-3, 29 points) dropped four points behind first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division standings and lost some of the momentum they had built in Saturday night’s rousing victory on Long Island.
Lee, who has lit the lamp in each of his last three contests, was denied on several chances by Winnipeg netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who finished with 27 saves compared to the 21 shots Greiss stopped in the tightly contested game.
“We played a really good hockey game against a really good team and had a few lapses and can’t do that against good teams,” Lee said.
“We had some really good opportunities to score and Hellebuyck kept a lot of them out. Credit to him on those, but for the most part, we did play a pretty good game.”
Pretty good won’t cut it if the Isles hope to return to the playoffs for the first time since highlighting their inaugural campaign here in Brooklyn by posting their first postseason series win since 1993 back in 2015-16.
Nikolaj Ehlers sent the home faithful to the exits with an empty-net goal with three ticks left on the clock for the Jets (17-8-2, 36 points), who won their fourth in a row by completing a three-game sweep of the tri-state area franchises this week.
New York, which extended its scoreless streak on the power play to eight games (0-for-17), will try to get back in the win column Thursday night when it visits Pittsburgh in the opener of a two-game road trip.
“The lesson we can learn is that you can’t take your foot off the gas, especially against a team like that,” veteran forward Matt Martin said.
“They are one of the best in hockey and we have to execute, the penalty-kill and that next shift we have to be ready. We let this one slip away.”
Isle Have Another: With goaltender Robin Lehner ruled out for Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed injury, the Isles recalled netminder Christopher Gibson from AHL Bridgeport to serve as Greiss’ backup. “He just tweaked a little something. Nothing to be concerned about,” Trotz said of Lehner, who has a 2.79 goals-against average in 12 games, including 11 starts, thus far this season. “He won’t be in tonight, a little precautionary, I guess. We didn’t put him on [injured reserve]. We hope he’s good to go in the next day or so.” … Following their two-game trip through Pittsburgh and Detroit (Saturday), the Isles will host the Penguins at the Coliseum next Monday before taking on reigning Western Conference champion Las Vegas at Barclays on Wednesday.
In local college action, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s basketball team extended its season-high winning streak to three games with a 104-75 rout of St. Joseph’s Brooklyn on Monday night at Remsen Street’s Pope Center.
Sophomore guard Jalen Jordan scored a game-high 19 points in just 18 minutes of playing time as the Terriers (5-3) ran out to a 56-30 lead at the half and never looked back.
SFC will be back in action Saturday afternoon in Newark, N.J., when it visits NJIT.