Trotz gives Isles an ‘F’ in road trip opener
Cites poor play following late collapse in 4-2 loss to Calgary
The Islanders might want to hide their report cards following Wednesday night’s debacle in Calgary.
“We got a big ‘F.’ Failure,” New York head coach Barry Trotz fumed following his club’s sub-par performance in a 4-2 loss to the Flames in front of 18,632 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“We had too many passengers,” Trotz added after the Metropolitan Division leaders squandered a game in hand but remained three points clear of defending Stanley Cup champion Washington in the ongoing race for first place.
The Islanders (35-18-6) had a two-game winning streak snapped and suffered just their third regulation loss in the past 16 contests.
Despite Casey Cizikas’ 16th goal of the season and team captain Anders Lee’s team-leading 20th tally, the Isles surrendered two goals in a 28-second span of the third period that doomed their chances of kicking off this three-game tour of Western Canada with a victory.
“Tonight’s a perfect example of what happens when we don’t play the style that we’re known to play. We’re an ugly team out there,” Cizikas ceded following New York’s rare defensive lapse in the final stanza.
Trotz, who has turned this team into the stingiest in the NHL (2.32 goals against per game) just one year after it led the league in shots and goals allowed, was clearly dismayed that his playoff-hopeful unit fell flat during the key moments of the final period after rallying to erase an early 2-0 deficit.
“We weren’t physically or emotionally engaged, at least in the first half of the game,” Trotz said.
“We didn’t have enough guys focused in on the task at hand, and we can’t win without a majority of our guys going. We had too many guys not going, but that’s on me, that’s on our staff, that’s on everybody.”
Netminder Thomas Greiss had a personal 5-0-1 run stopped despite making 28 saves, yielding more than one goal for the first time in seven outings, as the Isles fell victim to the Pacific Division leaders’ late push, which began less than five minutes after Lee equalized the contest early in the third.
Austin Czarnik put Calgary in front to stay when his shot rebounded off New York winger Leo Komarov and past Greiss at 6:10 of the period.
Less than a half minute later, Johnny Goudreau’s power-play goal, his 30th of the campaign, eluded Greiss to seal the Isles’ fate.
“We came back and tied it up, but for them to get that third, a bit of a fortunate bounce for them, but it goes in and they doubled-down on it pretty quickly,” Lee said.
“It was too much for us to come back.”
The Isles had won five straight contests in which they had fallen behind by two goals, a rarity in the NHL.
But on this evening, they managed just three shots in the opening period on Calgary goalie Mike Smith, who needed only 17 saves to ward off New York’s listless attack.
“We didn’t come out hard enough, and that’s the bottom line. I think we showed them a little too much respect,” Cizikas told the Associated Press.
“Down low in their own end I thought we gave too many pucks away. For a team that likes to get the puck down low and work it, we just couldn’t do that tonight.”
Trotz had expressed concern regarding his team’s three-day layoff ahead of the road-trip opener and saw them surrender two goals in the first period, one of which came off the stick of former long-time Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt good,” Harmonic said of lighting the lamp against his ex-teammates for a 2-0 lead with just over four minutes left in the first.
“So many good friends and so much fun and great memories on Long Island so to be able to put one in tonight, it obviously feels good.”
It didn’t feel very good for the Isles, who had little time to lick their wounds as they headed to Edmonton to take on the Oilers Thursday night.
“We have to have a short memory because we have a big one (Thursday),” Cizikas said.
Isle Have Another: Greiss hadn’t lost a start since Jan. 8, stopping an eye-popping 185 of 188 shots during that seven-game span before surrendering four goals to the Flames on Wednesday. … Injured Isles Thomas Hickey (upper body) and Andrew Ladd (lower body) joined the team on its three-game sojourn through Canada, which ends Saturday night in Vancouver. Neither player participated in Wednesday night’s contest, but both are nearing a return to action, according to Trotz.“Right now, they are still day-to-day, but not today,” Trotz said during Wednesday’s morning skate.“We’ll just see where we are health-wise. We’re getting closer to the trade deadline, we some flexibility within our roster and we’ll see where we take it. We’re just worried about this game. They are very close, they’ll skate [Wednesday] and what we decide [Thursday].”
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