There have been plenty of times for the Islanders in the Barry Trotz era where things have gone wrong. But last night in the team’s pivotal Game 5 against the Lightning, might have taken the cake. Considering the magnitude of the game, it’s easy to see why.
The Isles came into Monday night coming off a galvanizing Game 4 win that saw Ryan Pulock heroically preserve the game in the final seconds with his stop on Tampa’s Ryan McDonagh. All of that was quickly erased, as everything that could go wrong did for the team as they suffered their worst defeat under Trotz ever in an 8-0 whitewash.
“It was one of those nights where we couldn’t do anything right,” head coach Barry Trotz said in the postgame. “It didn’t go our way and it was tough one.”
To chalk up what happened to the Islanders on Monday night, all you have to do is look at the opening faceoff. Casey Cizikas lost that draw to Yanni Gourde. That moment would seem to set the tone of a forgettable evening.
It took all but 45 seconds after Cizikas’s losing that faceoff for the Isles to be down in shots 4-0, and down on the scoreboard. Steven Stamkos received a lucky bounce which resulted from an Adam Pelech turnover. Shortly after that, it became 2-0 when a puck went in off Andy Greene past goalie Semyon Varlamov. And not even five minutes after it was 2-0, the Isles surrendered another one to Alex Killorn after Varlamov couldn’t hold on to a loose puck. 3-0.
Just like that, the game was over before it started.
“We talked about coming out and having a good start,” said Brock Nelson. “They had a couple fortunate bounces. Had to respond and we didn’t.”
A 3-0 hole on the road was probably the worst start imaginable for the Islanders and their fans. Oh but things only got so much worse from there.
The small push the Islanders started out with in the middle frame brought possible hopes for a comeback — they hit three posts on one of their only dangerous shift of the night — but even that was quickly washed away by Brock Nelson’s hooking penalty. It became 4-0 just minutes later. The rest of the period was filled with undisciplined, uninspired play from the Isles and would be topped off by Mathew Barzal cross checking Jan Rutta in the side of the head.
The incident was deemed a major and Barzal was sent to the showers early.
Mathew Barzal not even giving a damn anymore this game pic.twitter.com/B4sN4S7yUe
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) June 22, 2021
So, not only were the Islanders getting embarrassed 6-0, but they had just lost their best player. Even with the game already considered a loss, it summed up that when things go wrong for the Isles, they go full tilt. And boy did they do that in every way imaginable in the 60 minutes they took part in.
Where the Isles go from here is simple: they have to win Wednesday. Their backs are against the wall on home ice and they are facing elimination for the first time this postseason. They also know what they need to fix from how the coach and the players spoke after the no-show performance. “We’ve just got to man up. We’ve got to leave our best game out there (Wednesday),” said Trotz.
There will be a lot of time over the next 36 or so hours for the players and fans to think about what could have been if the Islanders came to play last night. Then again, it might not really matter all that much. Reason being that Game 5 took on a theme of being a nightmare from the second the puck was dropped.
And it was. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Islanders ended up happening.
Now they have to find dig deep and fight to keep their season alive. Simple as that.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_