If you talk to New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, the two losses his team took this postseason had more to do with self-inflicted errors rather than not being able to hang with their opponent.
That was the case in their 3-2 Game 5 loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night, which was littered by Islanders’ mistakes as they missed out on sweeping Alex Ovechkin and Co.
A parade of second-period penalties allowed the Capitals to erase a 2-0 Islanders lead built in the first frame, as they went on to score three unanswered to stay alive.
“We weren’t as good as we needed to be. The 5-on-5 game we’ve been keeping them at bay, but they had a lot of zone time,” Trotz said Wednesday. “A lot more than we’d like to see.”
“That was on us yesterday. We took some very untimely penalties… they got back in the game,” he continued. “We didn’t have enough push, we didn’t have enough will to beat a good, desperate team. We didn’t play well enough to deserve to win that hockey game last night.”
Washington’s comeback further magnified the Islanders’ lack of success on the power play, which went 0-for-5 on Tuesday night and is now 1-for-19 for the series.
Had they converted on just one of them in Game 4, we could be talking about an Islanders sweep rather than their preparations for Game 5 on Thursday.
“The game is all about those opportunities. We had some of those opportunities… We had a chance and we passed it up,” Trotz said. “You take those opportunities and if we can put them in the back of the net, then this might be a different story.”
Compared to previous games in the series, the Islanders’ man-advantage unit looked better in Game 4 despite their inability to finish.
While it was an obvious topic of conversation on Wednesday, there is optimism surrounding the struggling unit.
“We created a lot of chances last game. Lots of pucks to the net. We created some momentum out of it, we couldn’t bear down,” forward Anthony Beauvillier said. “I thought we did a good job moving the puck… It’s going to go in at some point.”
“It’s playoffs. You just have to be patient. You’re not going to hit a home run every night or on the power play. It’s about getting chances and feeling good about yourself.”
While the loss relented some momentum to the Capitals as they look to pull off an improbable comeback, the Islanders continue to look within their ranks rather than focus too much on what the Capitals are doing.
That comes with the confidence of a staunch system like Trotz’s.
“It’s not focusing on them. If we do the right thing… play the Islander way, make it hard on them, play like we play when we have success, that’s what we have to focus on,” Beauvillier said. “Not anything they do.”
“We’re already focused on the next game,” defenseman Devon Toews said. “We feel like we have a good gameplan tomorrow. We know that we can do it and we’ll just bring it.”