The New York Islanders did numerous things right in their ascent to the top of the Metropolitan Division. Recently they have encountered a slight speed bump.
For the first time since Jan. 18, the Islanders are not a first-place team, and they will hope to rebound from two disappointing losses when they host the league-worst Ottawa Senators Tuesday night in Uniondale, N.Y.
New York (37-21-7, 81 points) enters two points behind the Washington Capitals, who handed the Isles a 3-1 loss on Friday. The Islanders followed with an even worse showing in a 4-1 defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon.
New York is 1-3 with one contest left on a five-game homestand and is hoping to recover, especially with the division race getting tighter. The Islanders are three points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and four in front of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I know we had put up a little bit of leeway (in the standings), but that's gone now," New York's Jordan Eberle said. "We have to find a way, and the biggest game is the next one. We need to find that desperation in our game again."
Other than a 6-1 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the return of former captain John Tavares, the last two weeks have not gone well for the Islanders. After going 11-2-2 from Jan. 13 to Feb. 16, New York is 2-4-1 in its last seven games.
On Sunday, the Islanders sustained consecutive regulation losses for the first time since Dec. 4-6 and lost by more than two goals for the first time since Dec. 6 at Pittsburgh.
"I've been in this a long time, and I always say you're gonna have stretches of 10 games when good teams are going to have an 8-1-1 record and then the next 10 you're gonna have to grind through it," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "You're gonna go through a 10-game stretch where it isn't easy. You don't get the goaltending, the power play doesn't click, whatever." >> Read more
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