ELMONT — Disjointed efforts have become commonplace for the New York Islanders as of late — and doing so against the NHL-best Boston Bruins was always going to be a bad omen to the point of the franchise wallowing at its lowest point of the 2022-23 season.
After scoring the first goal of the night, the Islanders yielded four unanswered to Boston (35-5-4) in a 4-1 loss on Wednesday night at UBS Arena for New York’s sixth loss in its last seven games and seventh defeat in its last nine. They also won just one game during a season-high five-game homestand that came to an end against the Bruins.
“It’s something where we’ve got to find our way through it,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “Is it a low point? Again, we need to collect some wins here. It’s a tough league, it’s an unforgiving league, and nobody’s feeling sorry for us.”
It was not the kind of response the Islanders were hoping for after squandering a three-goal lead to the Washington Capitals on Monday, prompting the call-up and subsequent NHL debut of one of their top prospects, William Dufour.
The right-winger, who began the night on the Islanders’ first line, committed two costly turnovers directly leading to Bruins goals in the second period off rusty New York goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was making just his second start since Dec. 17. Dufour accrued just 6:48 of ice time before getting benched with nine minutes to go in the second period.
“He’ll continue to learn and grow from that,” Lambert said. “That’s what it’s about from that standpoint in his development. He’ll be fine.
Zach Parise put the Islanders (23-19-4) in front with 4:19 remaining in the first period when he suck a one-timer from the left circle under the glove of Ullmark for his 13th goal in New York’s 46th game of the season. He scored 15 in 82 games last season.
The Islanders should have had a second goal two minutes later on a delayed penalty when Mathew Barzal was found at the left post with a wide-open net. He skied his chance well beyond the crossbar, however, as he flailed his arms in disgust at the attempt.
Dufour experienced his first set of growing pains in the NHL when his attempted clearing pass from the left boards just inside the Islanders zone was picked off, ultimately leading to the Bruins’ tying goal when Charlie McAvoy’s one-timer snuck through Varlamov — an attempt the Islanders’ netminder would’ve liked to have gotten back — 7:48 into the second period.
Just 3:12 later, Dufour and the Islanders’ first line was hemmed in their zone again and an inability to clear paved the way for Boston’s second. A shot from the point nicked off the crossbar and bounced off Varlamov’s pads right to Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort, who stuffed it home to give the visitors the lead heading into the final 20.
“I don’t know what happened,” Barzal said of the Islanders’ loss of composure. “Those guys [the Bruins] are a good hockey team.”
The Bruins added two more power-play goals in the third period — the first when Brad Marchand completed a perfect tic-tac-toe move that left Varlamov out of position and helpless 5:03 into the third before Trent Frederic popped a driving chance on the man-advantage 4:22 left in regulation.
“There are just small portions of the game where we lose a guy and it feels like everything when there’s a breakdown, they’re capitalizing,” forward Brock Nelson said. “You have to find a way to try and fight through it and correct those mistakes.”
A quick turnaround awaits the Islanders as they travel to Buffalo for a Thursday-night tilt against the Sabres.