The New York Islanders won’t have to look far Saturday night for proof that an early lull doesn’t have to define a season.
Still, they are running out of time to prove their first impression isn’t the lasting one.
The Islanders will look to snap out of their third-period doldrums and end a three-game losing streak Saturday night when they oppose the Washington Capitals in Elmont, N.Y.
The Islanders’ latest setback was a 5-2 defeat to the host Boston Bruins on Thursday. The Capitals, meanwhile, will be completing a back-to-back road set after they continued surging with a 4-2 win Friday night over the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J.
The loss to the Bruins continued a disturbing trend for the Islanders, who tied the game 2-2 on Simon Holmstrom’s short-handed goal 2:50 into the third before allowing three unanswered goals.
The Islanders have been outscored 8-1 after the second period in their past three games, a span in which they are 0-2-1. Overall this season, they have been outscored 19-9 in the third period and beyond, which more than nullifies New York’s 22-17 edge in the first two periods of games.
“We were really good in the first couple of periods,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “We are, right now, having trouble, for whatever reason, sustaining a 60-minute game. And we’ve got to find a way to do that.”
Another lineup shuffle may be in order Saturday for Lambert, who benched second-liner Pierre Engvall on Thursday after the winger’s turnover deep in the Islanders’ zone led to an insurance goal for Joel Eriksson Ek in the third period of the Minnesota Wild’s 4-2 win on Tuesday. The second line was on the ice for three of the Bruins’ goals on Thursday.
The Capitals continued climbing out of an early-season hole Friday when they won for the fifth time in seven games (5-1-1). Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Beck Malenstyn scored 15 seconds apart shortly beyond the midway point of the first period for Washington, which extended its lead to 3-0 on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal 6:34 into the third.
After the Devils scored twice in a two-minute span in the third, Kuznetsov iced the win by scoring an empty-netter with 1:51 remaining.
“We just had a lot of energy,” Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “The first period, the first part of it sets us up to — it gets a little bit disjointed there, especially being up three. It kind of changes the game a little bit and changes their game plan. Thought we handled it well in certain spots.”
The Capitals’ turnaround has coincided with a dramatic improvement by the team’s penalty-killing unit. Washington opponents are scoreless in 17 power-play opportunities in the Capitals’ past seven games after New Jersey went 0-for-4 with the man advantage on Friday.
The Capitals allowed at least one power-play goal in each of their first five games, when they went 1-3-1 while surrendering seven goals in 22 power-play opportunities.
–Field Level Media
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