Ryan Miller stole the show on Sunday, keeping the Islanders from a perfect week in a 2-1 shootout victory by the Canucks in Barclays Center.
Ryan Strome’s goal with 50.8 seconds left in regulation kept the Isles from drowning in their frustration, but there still was plenty to go around. After 48 shots, including 22 in the third period, the Islanders wanted more from a game they controlled for the vast majority.
“Any time you get [close to] 50 shots and one goal, it’s a little disheartening,” said Kyle Okposo, who had 12 of the Isles’ 94 shot attempts in the game. “[Miller] played really well. I thought we outplayed them pretty much the whole game.”
Everyone except the Canucks’ goaltender, who was primed to close the door and make Ben Hutton’s first NHL goal midway through the second period stand up. Miller denied Brock Nelson and Anders Lee with just under seven minutes to go, then Okposo all alone in front a minute later.
With Jaroslav Halak off for an extra attacker, Frans Nielsen and Nick Leddy worked the puck around to Strome, who snapped one over Miller’s shoulder with Lee providing a screen.
“The point is always big, so we’ll take it,” said John Tavares, who hit the post in the opening minutes of the game and hasn’t had a goal in six straight. “It is what it is — guys like me that are here to put the puck in the net, obviously it’s frustrating.”
There was frustration all around when a game between two non-rivals got chippy from an unlikely source. Mikhail Grabovski drilled Henrik Sedin from behind into the boards in front of the Canucks’ bench, sending the Vancouver captain to the dressing room with an injury and Grabovski to his own dressing room with a boarding major and game misconduct.
The Isles’ terrific penalty kill pushed through but the Canucks ramped up their own aggression, with Derek Dorsett given only a minor for a shoulder to Tavares’ head in the second.
“He thinks he hit me in the shoulder,” Tavares said. “I don’t know, I just try to play the game.”
Down to 11 forwards from the 18:16 mark of the first and down three defensemen — Travis Hamonic (lower body) and Johnny Boychuk (upper body) remained out, joined by rookie Adam Pelech (upper body), who was replaced by fellow call-up Scott Mayfield — Capuano’s team surrendered little and pressed well.
“Our back end, not having a few guys, I thought they played well again,” Capuano said. “We could very well have won three in a row here.”
Instead it’s a 2-0-1 homestand, though with a pair of third-period rallies for points in the past two. The Islanders have four days off before they face the Senators in Ottawa, so they’ll be rested and will try to carry over the good things they did on Sunday and their previous two wins over the Rangers and Blue Jackets.
“Five of six points, we came from behind in a couple, you can’t be too upset with that,” Okposo said. “We can hang our hats on the fact we played pretty well all three games here at home.”