UNIONDALE, NY -- The Islanders are living life on the edge when it comes to a postseason birth. They currently sit 14th in the Eastern Conference with 52 points, but can get back in it with wins this weekend.
Now, the Isles are not a sure thing to be in the playoff hunt come the end of the season. In all actuality, their odds are very slim. The loss of Travis Hamonic, the team's best defenseman, does not help their cause and only makes the task even more challenging. They also lost a crucial game against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at the Coliseum. The loss allowed the Canadiens, who are one point behind the Isles in the standings, to jump to 11th in the East and push the Islanders down to 14th.
“Every loss is critical this time of year. You wish you could win them all, but it’s not going to happen,” Islanders forward PA Parenteau said following the loss. “We gave up a goal on the first shot again and that means we weren’t ready. I think that was the 10th time this year we did that, so it hurts us. It takes away a lot of momentum from us and its tough when it happens.”
Giving up a goal on the first shot has been one of the Islanders' biggest problems this season. Regardless of the goaltender in net, this problem has plagued them throughout this season. Especially since the Islanders have not had much production in the scoring department this season, which makes it harder to rebound from gaffes like giving up a goal on the first shot.
Islanders captain Mark Streit understood how much the Montreal loss meant and how much they needed that win.
“We had a good stretch, we had a big win in Philly and that’s good. That’s all positive, but…that’s the disappointing part,” Streit said Thursday. “Was a huge game tonight and we just didn’t execute. Coming back in the end to score two goals it’s good. It shows we have character on the team, but at the end of the day it’s the win that counts.”
The loss puts a larger importance on today's and tomorrow's matchups against the Kings and Panthers. L.A. has won four of their last 10 games and the Islanders won the only matchup against them last season. But the Kings always pose a challenge, especially with one of the best American goaltenders in net. Florida is another team the Islanders will need beat. They sit atop the Southwest Division, though they have struggled at times this season.
“Those are going to be the biggest games of our season,” said Matt Martin about the two matchups. L.A. is a good hockey team, so we’re definitely going to have to be ready for that one. Then you got Florida coming in whose sitting in the eight to ten spot and that’s a team we have to gain ground on. Big games for us for sure.”
Streit agreed that the next two games will be huge for the Isles and they need to keep moving.
“There's a lot of positives going on in the past few weeks, month, and we’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “[Thursday] was a setback that was disappointing, but Saturday and Sunday are two huge games coming out and we don’t have any time to feel sorry for ourselves. We got to get our stuff together, recover well, have a good practice and come out even stronger.”
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