Islanders’ skid persists, despite Andy Greene acquisition
Ex-Devils captain picks up assist in debut, but road woes continue
The New York Islanders were hoping to end their recent slump and bolster their playoff chances by acquiring former Devils captain and veteran defenseman Andy Greene on Sunday.
Instead, they got more of the same in Glendale, Arizona Monday night: hardly any offense and some really tough puck luck when they were in position to score.
“I think we hit four posts, had a breakaway, one off the knob of [Arizona goaltender Antti Raanta’s] stick and one in the crease,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz lamented after his struggling club dropped its third straight game on its ongoing four-game road trip, 2-1, to the Coyotes.
“They say it’s a game of inches. It’s a game of centimeters right now,” said Trotz.
And it was exactly that Monday in the desert as the Isles (33-19-6, 72 points) finally snapped a 166-minute scoring drought on Anthony Beauvillier’s goal at 6:42 of the third period for their first tally in three contests. Unfortunately, the team could do little else thereafter.
New York, which scored 10 goals in two games before embarking on the trip, was blanked 5-0 in Nashville last Thursday and absorbed a 1-0 defeat at Vegas Saturday before getting shut down by Raanta and the Coyotes for over two-and-a-half periods.
Greene, who went directly from New Jersey to Glendale after receiving news of the trade Sunday afternoon, got an assist on Beauvillier’s goal and blocked a pair of shots in just under 20 minutes of ice time in his Isles debut.
“I really liked his game. That’s what the doctor ordered,” Trotz said of the 37-year-old Greene, who was paired with fellow blue-liner Ryan Pulock.
“He’s poised, he handled their top line. He was a good compliment for Pully. He’ll definitely be a good pickup for us.”
Pulock also got an assist on Beauvillier’s goal and Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves for New York, which left Downtown Brooklyn with victories in four of its previous five games before this unexpected drop in production.
“We did a lot of good things, we just didn’t put the puck in the net,” Isles captain Anders Lee said.
“It’s been tough for us lately to find goals,” he added. “We got that one from [Beauvillier] and couldn’t get the second one. We had chances over and over and we’ve just got to find a way to put it in.”
Despite the road skid, the Isles are still holding on to third place in the Metropolitan Division standings, but are only ahead of the Eastern Conference’s first wild card, Columbus (72 points), because they have two games in hand on the Blue Jackets.
Philadelphia holds the second and final wild card spot with 71 points. The Carolina Hurricanes, the team that swept New York out of last year’s playoffs, is sitting on the outside looking in with 70 points.
That puts added pressure on the Isles to end their skid and find some offense in Colorado on Wednesday, or they might just find themselves looking up at a playoff spot by the end of the week.
“We just have to battle through it,” said Trotz, whose club has yet to lose four straight during his two-year tenure.
“Our team kept battling and that’s a real positive. As much as they deserved to win that game, so did we.”
Isle Have Another: Greene admitted that making the trip from Jersey to Arizona, and then having to lace them up for a new team after spending his previous 14 seasons with the Devils was more than a bit daunting and tiring. “It’s like a duck’s legs under water,” Greene said of the unexpected transition and trip. “Just sitting there trying to make simple plays and simple reads there and ease myself into the game and go from there. The guys have been very welcoming. It was a great few hours before the game. I’m looking forward to continuing to build something with these guys.” … After concluding their four-game trip in Colorado, the Isles will host the Detroit Red Wings at the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Friday night. The team will also retire legendary Isles forward John Tonelli’s No. 27 jersey in a pregame ceremony that evening. Lee currently wears 27 for the Isles, but Tonelli doesn’t appear to have a problem with the Isles’ captain donning his sweater number for the next several years. “To have my number retired alongside several of my former teammates is incredibly humbling and something that my family and I will cherish forever,” Tonelli said. “I have spoken with current Islanders team captain Anders Lee and from seeing the tremendous leader he is, I told him that I would be honored if he continues to wear our number until the end of his career.” … The Isles’ next game at Barclays Center, where they are riding a 15-game points streak, is March 3 vs. Montreal.
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