The Islanders still have time to make up ground, but Tuesday’s loss was one that must have stung a bit.
With the chance to move into a playoff spot, the Islanders fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1 in the team’s worst loss under Doug Weight. The Islanders interim head coach called it “a good old fashioned ass kicking” during his postgame interview with MSG and later told Newsday that it was “a humbling loss.”
What started out as a night the Islanders looked like they just couldn’t beat a strong performance from Frederik Andersen turned into an all out blowout.
Down 3-1 heading into the third period the Islanders still had a chance to turn things around, and seemed like it could happen after Jason Chimera scored on a penalty shot late in the second. However, that idea was squashed when Austin Mathews scored his first of two goals on the night 5:41 into the final period.
Tyler Bozak made it 5-1 minutes later and Austin Mathews scored his second goal of the evening at 11:51. Matt Hunwick scored the Maple Leafs final goal of the night on JF Berube, who had come in to replace Thomas Greiss following the sixth Leafs’ goal.
The frustrating part of it all for the Islanders will be that the team had their chances before Toronto’s four-goal third period, but Andersen played lights out in net.
The Maple Leafs’ goalie made 34 saves on the night, allowing only the Chimera penalty shot to get by. Andersen made a pair of nice saves on a shot from Alan Quine and Johnny Boychuk late in the first period to keep the Islanders from tying the game. Andersen made a big diving save to rob John Tavares of a goal in the second period.
Brock Nelson rang a shot off the crossbar as well.
“We had some great opportunities and we just couldn’t find a way to get it in,” Weight told MSG Network after the game. “(Chimera’s) goal gave some life. It was a great shot and we really started to get some great opportunities. Drawing some penalties and power play was good, we were moving it around. Obviously results are paramount, but we worked and we had some great opportunities.
“We couldn’t get that second goal and from there the flood gates opened. I’m not too excited about, not the response in our work ethic but the response in our structure and some man-on-man stuff in our zone that just were not very good.”
Whether it was the frustration of scoring just once in the first 40 minutes or a young team finding a way to finish strong, the Islanders let a chance to move into a playoff spot – even just momentarily – slip away.
Even more concerning is the Islanders continued struggles away from Barclays Center. The Islanders are 7-12-4 on the road this season and even in their first seven games in February they have been victorious just once in four road games.
The Islanders have 18 games on the road to close out the year, which includes a two-week span starting next week that will take them across the United States and western Canada.
The Islanders are back in action on Thursday when their cross-borough rivals, the New York Rangers, come to Brooklyn