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Isles' effort 'unacceptable' in 7-0 loss to Flyers
The final tally Monday was 7-0 for the Flyers, the worst home shutout loss in franchise history. It basically was over by the 16-minute mark of the first period, with the Flyers scoring 26 seconds into the game and the Islanders having trouble just connecting on a pass during a two-minute, two-man advantage later in the first.
"We have to have 20 people on the board together, every night. Otherwise we have no chance," said Evgeni Nabokov, who was strafed for all seven goals on only 25 Flyers shots, left in the net by Jack Capuano despite a 4-0 hole after two periods and a game Tuesday night in Ottawa.
John Tavares, named the NHL's first star of the week before the game, had a rough afternoon in front of a sellout Coliseum crowd. He finished with a minus-3 rating and took two first-period minors while trying to fight through dogged Flyers checking to jump-start his team.
Without No. 91 leading the way, there was no leader on the ice for the Islanders.
"It's a matter of, do we want to play as a team, go hard every shift, or do we wait around for Johnny Tavares to score a goal and then say, 'OK, now I'm going to play today, too'?" Nabokov said. "It was a bunch of reasons why we beat the Rangers, why we beat Jersey. Johnny led the way, but everyone was working. I don't have an answer why not today."
There were too many examples of listlessness to document, starting with Tavares' prolific line failing to backcheck on the opening shift, allowing Claude Giroux to coast in alone after a lucky carom to beat Nabokov on the game's first shot on goal.
Giroux scored his second to make it 4-0 at 14:45 of the second, capping a shift in which the Flyers danced around a very stationary Isles group before Giroux, unguarded at the side of the net, tucked the puck around Nabokov.
Zac Rinaldo scored the fifth goal at 3:31 of the third on a rush after Andrew MacDonald, off his game for nearly a week, didn't stop at the front of his net to tie up his man. Danny Briere scored the last two for the Isles' hall of shame.
The previous worst Islanders home shutout loss was 6-0, done five times, most recently Feb. 20, 2012, against Ottawa.
The Isles rallied to beat the Rangers on Thursday at the Garden, then piled on goals to beat the Devils on Saturday. There have been many stretches during recent seasons when the team did some good things and then erased them with a no-show day, but the maturing bunch at the core of this team seemed to understand that isn't allowed in the short season.
"It's really just unacceptable," said Matt Martin, who fought twice to try to snap his team awake. "We played great hockey against two big rivals, two good teams. Philly comes in, they're struggling a bit, and they play the way we should be playing."
Capuano said there aren't many ways to change things up. Reliable defenseman Brian Strait broke his left ankle when he caught an edge and stumbled into the side boards. He could be out for the season. The Isles do not have organizational depth on defense, so this might be the group that needs to dig out from this brutal day.
"They were the hungrier team," Capuano said. "Physically, they manhandled us. That, to me, is controllable. That's your work ethic, your battle level. And that's what's unacceptable."