Last night the Islanders faced off against the New York Rangers for the last time this season at Nassau Coliseum, losing 4-3 in regulation. After a strong start where the Islanders scored a power play goal early and then added to it with another tally before the end of the first twenty minutes, the Isles would come out flat in the second and fail to connect on a 5-on-3 opportunity. The second period belonged to the Rangers and it became too difficult for Head Coach Scott Gordon's squad to regain control.
"There were things there for us in the second period to build on. We didn't take advantage of it," said Gordon. The power play was also negated by a few broken sticks, but a few errant passes and missed shots on net certainly did not help either.
In the locker room, Dwayne Roloson was asked by Newsday reporter Katie Strang about the team's ability to come out hard with an inability to maintain it through three periods.
"It's the way we've played all year," said Roloson who started for the Isles. "We'll come out and play one great period and then we'll sit back. We'll play forty minutes or fifty minutes. I don't know why we just don't play a sixty or sixty-five minute game."
It has been an inconsistent trend throughout the year. The Isles will either come out with an excellent first period followed by a deflated second, or will do the opposite. If it wasn't for a guy like Roloson, who had another great performance in goal, the Isles would have lost several more games than they already have this year.
Strang mentioned what Roloson had said about the team's inconsistency, and Gordon sees it as a problem that will eliminate itself over time.
"It's called experience. We can't accelerate that," said Gordon. "It's gonna come in time. We watch our team go on the ice and do well, and let's not kid ourselves, we had two pretty good periods, the Rangers had one and that was enough for them to win. So, it's not like we're that far off, but it does take time."
The team has been in rebuild mode now for two years, so experience hasn't officially taken it's toll on a young team like the Islanders. But it's something that will continue to develop with next season likely to be the turning point.
"That lack of experience is what these two years are for and ultimately they are going to learn from all this and identify what brings success and what doesn't," said Gordon.
As far as losing to the Rangers, the Islanders came out and wanted to seek revenge after being embarrassed at Madison Square Garden last Wednesday when they lost 5-0 in probably their worst game of the year. But this loss stung more for certain players like John Tavares.
"This one is probably more I think, especially at home. Knowing what's at stake, especially after the start we got off too. The game couldn't have started any better for us and we let them get back in the game. We fought back hard, but we gave them too many opportunities and they capitalized on them," said Tavares.
The power play needs to cash in when a 5-on-3 presents itself. Regardless of how many sticks break, it's a chance to put the game out of reach and the Rangers were able to kill off the two-man advantage as if they were Stanley Cup contenders.
However it was a fluky night. Olli Jokinen's goal that tied the game at two was the result of a broken stick as well. Kyle Okposo went to clear the puck and is blade simply just snapped in half. Jokinen picked up the loose puck and shot it passed a helpless Okposo and screened Roloson. At that point the momentum completely shifted before Gaborik scored with just 2:45 left in the middle frame.
The Isles scorers were Blake Comeau, who had two, and Mark Streit, who slammed home the power play slapper at the start of the first period.
The next game will be tomorrow night at the Coliseum as the Isles will host the Philadelphia Flyers, looking once again to end their losing streak to their Atlantic Division rivals.
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