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Blown leads still an issue for Islanders with disappointing loss to Devils

November 30, 2023, 3:05 AM ET [138 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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The New York Islanders continue to suffer from blown leads early in the season, allowing three third period goals to fall 5-4 to the New Jersey Devils last night.

In a lineup change up front, Anders Lee went back up to the top line, while Simon Holmstrom moved down to the third line, and Mike Reilly suited up for his first game with the Islanders, after being claimed off waivers from Florida.

The Islanders managed to open the scoring only five minutes into the game on a power play, when Bo Horvat ripped a one-timer past Vitek Vanecek. Despite New York killing a penalty shortly afterwards though, New Jersey responded a little later, as Mike Reilly turned the puck over up ice and Michael McLeod came in on an odd-man rush and beat Ilya Sorokin with a good shot, tying the game. The Islanders did end up with another power play for an opportunity to go back ahead late in the frame but couldn’t convert, and went into intermission even.

New Jersey ended up pulling ahead for the first time about four minutes into the second period, with Jack Hughes feeding Dawson Mercer on a 2-on-1, for Mercer to roof a shot over Sorokin. However, the Islanders came right back only a few minutes later, as Mathew Barzal took a stretch pass from Anders Lee to go in alone, and beat Vanecek on a breakaway. Then only a little over a minute after that, Cal Clutterbuck managed to whack in a puck in-close, putting New York back ahead.

The Islanders weren’t done there, and only three minutes after that, Mathew Barzal tipped a great pass over to Jean-Gabriel Pageau right in front of the net for a redirection, putting New York up 4-2 and ending Vanecek's night.

The Islanders finished the frame with a good penalty kill, and after a pretty well-rounded first 40 minutes (aside from a few bad rush chances given up), the Islanders were ahead by two heading into intermission.

However, once again, New York couldn’t hold a lead. First, Jack Hughes pulled New Jersey back to within one, taking a pass from Dawson Mercer to beat Sorokin five minutes into the period. The Devils were really pressing from there, and then after the Islanders ended up negating their own power play a little later with not one, but two penalties, New Jersey went on a 4-on-3 power play and Nico Hischier buried a rebound in-close to tie the game.

The Devils were all over New York through a lot of the frame, and while the Islanders had a power play later to take the lead back, they couldn’t convert. Then as the clock ticked down, Curtis Lazar buried a rebound with only 23 seconds to go, giving the Devils a 5-4 comeback win.

Yet again, the Islanders were able to take a multi-goal lead, and yet again, they weren’t able to hold onto it. It’s easy to lose count of how many times this has happened at only the quarter-mark of the season. If the team was just able to lock things down with a full 60-minute effort and stay disciplined when they have a lead, this season could be looking a lot better than their 8-7-6 record represents.

Especially to not even pick up a point from that game against a divisional opponent is a big blow, with the Islanders still only just hovering around .500. There’s still lots of time, but New York is really struggling to make up any ground when they have a chance to do so.

On the positive side, the team’s power play does continue to play a big role in their offense, with another goal on the man advantage yesterday.

Mike Reilly’s first game with the Islanders was a bit of a mixed bag. He can step up as one of the more capable blue liners once New York is set up in the offensive zone, but his gap control defending rush chances wasn’t always great and he was caught out of position a couple times up ice, notably leading to the McLeod 2-on-1 goal.

The Islanders also continue to try to sort out their first and third lines, as the mixing and matching continued last night to mixed results. Each line struggled against Philadelphia, so I suppose another rotation was inevitable.

Regardless, it was another missed opportunity for New York to pick up points, based around another blown lead. They sit 10th in the Eastern Conference in points percentage, and face another tough task tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes.


- Blown leads, reliance on goaltending are issues on Islanders' point streak
- Islanders’ point streak ends in home loss to Wild
- Islanders on three-game skid following loss to Bruins
- Islanders’ skid extends to four games after losing 4-1 to Capitals
- Islanders’ losing streak at five games after loss to Oilers
- Isles blow leads in both games of back-to-back as penalty kill struggles
- Islanders snap seven-game losing streak with shootout win over Flames
- Islanders hang on for home win over Flyers
- Islanders beat Senators in first half of back-to-back, Adam Pelech on LTIR
- Isles’ win streak ends against Flyers, Tyce Thompson acquired from Devils
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