Islanders struggle in 3rd period again, fall 4-2 to Wild

Islanders Wild
Minnesota Wild’s Vinni Lettieri, second from left, celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal as New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, right, reacts during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

ELMONT, N.Y. — The Islanders continue to be plagued by inefficient third periods while allowing goals in bunches, yielding two goals in 42 seconds in the final frame on Tuesday night to lose 4-2 to the Minnesota Wild.

Following two Islanders penalties in quick succession —  a high-stick on Casey Cizikas before a roughing call on Noah Dobson — Kirill Kaprizov fired the game-winner on the power play 6:50 into the final period before Joel Eriksson-Ek put a bow on Minnesota’s victory with a wide-open wrister at the 7:32 mark.

“It was costly penalties, untimely penalties,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “We had an undisciplined penalty… we had a few high-sticking penalties. We’re being careless with our sticks and that’s a discipline thing.

“Is it intentional? No. But we have to be better with that  and so what happens is we continue a parade to the penalty box and give them momentum.”

The regulation loss ends the Islanders’ five-game point streak, though they lost two of the last three of those by squandering mult-goal third-period leads, first by allowing three goals in 3:58 to the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 30 before squandering a 3-1 advantage during the third on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Both developed into overtime losses.

“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot a bit in the third period,” Dobson said. “Last couple of games we played a really good 40 minutes… we just have to manage the third periods a little better.”

Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom scored for the Islanders (5-3-3).

Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, who recorded shutouts in each of his previous two starts, was beaten just 19 seconds into the game by a Patrick Maroon one-timer that snuck over his shoulder.

Despite having a power play within the game’s first 180 seconds, the Islanders didn’t record a single shot on goal through the first eight minutes. But on their fourth shot of the night at the 11-minute mark of the period, Dobson equalized for the Islanders when he one-timed a slapshot past Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

His chance was created by a tenacious forecheck by Cal Clutterbuck, who took out a pair of Wild skaters behind the Minnesota net, allowing Cizikas to pick up the loose puck, wheel around the net, and feed Dobson at the right dot.

The goal was already Dobson’s fourth of the season and his 11th point in 11 games so far. 

“He’s been playing well,” fellow defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “He’s been shooting the puck and they’ve been going in. I think he’s going to keep that confidence, keep that poise, and keep shooting it.”

Noah Dobson Islanders
New York Islanders’ Noah Dobson (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The two sides traded goals once again in the second period. On the power play, Wahlstrom single-handedly put the Islanders ahead 8:34 into the frame when he split a pair of Wild defenders and roofed a wrist shot from the left circle for his first goal of the season. 

“It’s good to see,” Lambert said of Wahlstrom’s first tally of the season. “He had four shots and he did what he needs to do.”

Vinni Lettieri drew Minnesota level 3:29 later when a wrist shot from the point snuck between Wild forward Ryan Hartman and Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho, who were jockeying in front of position in front of Varlamov. The New York goalie never saw it as it snuck under his arm.

The Islanders found themselves on the back foot in the third after a high-sticking penalty on Cizikas and a roughing call on Dobson — though the blueliner high-sticked Brandon Duhaime on a follow-through to prompt the whistle.

“The guy got sticked in the face but I was trying to make a play on the puck,” Dobson said. “I thought it was a follow-through but it is what is. The ref made the call and they scored on the power play.”

While Dobson sat in the box, Kaprizov fired the go-ahead goal with 13:10 left in regulation — a wide-open one-timer that skimmed off the glove of Varlamov and in.

Forty-two seconds later, Eriksson-Ek doubled Minnesota’s advantage when he was left wide open at Varlamov’s blocker side.

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