The Islanders dropped their 12th straight game tonight losing to the Florida Panthers 4-1 in front of a crowd that was sparse, but impatient at times.
Jack Capuano opted to start the game with the line of Jesse Joensuu, Matt Martin and Zenon Konopka. For the entire shift, the puck was in the Islanders zone and Dwayne Roloson had to stand on his head early. It took only 49 seconds into the game for the first of what would be several rounds of boos to come out.
The Islanders did get on the board first however with a goal coming from Matt Moulson, who jumped on a Florida turnover in the slot and roofed a shot past Tomas Vokoun in the first period. That would be the only goal the Islanders would see, despite many opportunities to strike again.
The Panthers put up four unanswered goals in the 2nd period, and a crowd that was already disgusted in watching their team begin to collapse began to voice their displeasure once again. Mark Santorelli scored two goals for the Panthers.
The Islanders threw 40 shots at Vokoun, but he stood tall and stopped 39 of them. The Islanders had a total of four power-plays, including a 5-on-3 for 1:45 that they were unable to cash in on. Matt Martin told us during the post game that he felt that was the turning point in the game and created a mental lapse on the Islanders part as they watched Florida answer back with two quick goals.
By the time media was allowed in, there were only a couple of players in the dressing room, many understandably not willing to talk. There comes a point where you can only say so much after 12 losses.
Mark Eaton echoed this sentiment. "I don't know what to say anymore. The big concern right now is winning games and we didn't do that."
Capuano was visibly upset with the effort, but he acknowledged that it was only his first two games. His main point tonight was that the Islanders were very lazy with their shift changes and that caused the Panthers to sustain some offensive pressure and storm back. "We made 5 or 6 mental lapses in the 2nd period. We have to win the change game. We stayed out too long and they capitalized."
The Islanders get their next chance to try and win a game tomorrow, as they go back on the road to face the Atlanta Thrashers for a rare Sunday afternoon game. The puck drops at 5 PM.
I think any Islanders fan has to come away very displeased from this effort. Towards the latter part of this losing streak, the Islanders could at least hang their hat on the fact that they were trying hard. That in no way was the case tonight. They were very weak on the puck, and kept having mis-handles at key points. The Islanders lack of speed was exposed numerous times. The Islanders are running out of time to figure things out. While it is still early in the season, the general rule is that when you get to this point in the season you have to assess what is good and what is bad. To be honest, there isn't that much good there right now.
One item of note was that Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney was in attendance for the second straight game, joined this time by scouts from the San Jose Sharks, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. Something to keep an eye on as we approach the 20 game mark of the season.