Any indication that the Islanders are capable of reeling off consecutive wins to mount any semblance of a playoff push disappeared on Sunday afternoon, falling 3-2 in a shootout to the worst team in the NHL this season, the Montreal Canadiens (10-33-7).
Following a 4-1 victory against the Boston Bruins, the Islanders missed out on a chance to win two straight games for the first time since Jan. 17-21 in what was a three-game win streak.
They were stonewalled by Canadiens goaltender Andrew Hammond, who was making his first regular-season start in the NHL since March 28, 2018. The veteran netminder who took the league by storm during a red-hot stretch with the Ottawa Senators back in 2015 reverted back to that form — helped along by an Islanders offense that continues to lack any sort of finish to make them a competitive team.
Hammond made 30 saves on 32 shots while turning away two of three Islanders shootout attempts. Meanwhile, Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin failed to make a stop in the shootout after allowing a soft second goal to Canadiens forward Josh Anderson late in the second period to force New York to play catchup for a second time on Sunday.
Brock Nelson salvaged a point for the Islanders (18-20-7) and forced overtime with 2:57 to go in regulation when he beat Hammond through the five-hole for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
“I will say that we showed good character to stay with it in the third, but we need a bit more,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We wanted to play their game a little more than we wanted to play our game consistently.”
But for the 11th time in 12 outings, the Islanders conceded the first goal of the game when a shot from the point by Jeff Petry squeaked through a forest of bodies and trickled through Sorokin before rolling into the back of the net to give Montreal a lead 9:01 into the first.
“It’s harder when you dig yourself a hole and have to try and generate and manufacture offense,” Nelson said. “Teams can kind of clamp down a little bit more.”
Starting the second period on a two-man advantage, the Islanders worked enough momentum to get back on level terms. After the first Canadiens penalty was killed off, Kyle Palmieri got the Islanders on the board on the power-play just 1:29 into the frame when he backhanded a rebound in front of Hammond home.
It was Palmieri’s third goal in his last three games after working his way back in the lineup from an injury a couple of healthy scratches.
While the Islanders dominated a majority of the period, they exited trailing after Josh Anderson put the Canadiens in front with 1:11 to go. For Sorokin, it was another troubling soft goal to allow after the Montreal forward beat him on the short side over his shoulder at a tough angle from the left goal line.
“We gave up a late goal in the second which is something that’s been bothering me all year and it’s plagued us all year,” Trotz said.
The Islanders pushed in the third period where Hammond continued difficult to break down. Nelson finally got the Islanders back into with just inside three minutes to go in regulation when he pounced on a loose puck just outside the Canadiens zone, split the defense, and slotted a wrister through the five-hole.