The New York Islanders were shocked after a surprising loss to a team that was no longer playing for anything. The players had no idea how it happened and were confused about the defeat.
The Islanders had a bad start when they gave up two goals in just 63 seconds, then another goal before the end of the first period. This 5-2 loss against Washington Capitals has made it difficult for them to make it into the playoffs, as they no longer have control over their chances with only one game left.
Zach Parise, a veteran hockey player, said it is really disappointing to be in a spot where you have to depend on other teams for help. The New York team needs help right now because they are behind the Florida team by one point after Toronto, who was captained by former Islanders captain John Tavares, won in overtime. Pittsburgh is also not too far off; they just need one more point which they can get with their two remaining games against Chicago and Columbus (two of the worst teams in the NHL). Meanwhile, Florida still has one game left that can determine whether or not New York gets the help they need.
Ilya Sorokin, who is up for an award as the NHL’s best goalie, had a rough start. He gave up goals to Dylan Strome, Rasmus Sandin and Craig Smith on the first nine shots he faced. After that, though, he made 20 good saves. The problem didn’t lie with him – his teammates weren’t helping out by leaving Strome open and making it easy for the other team to score goals.
Coach Lane Lambert said, “It’s difficult to explain why it happened. We made some mistakes from the start and gave our opponents a chance to score. We even tripped on our own stick! Some errors were definitely present”
Washington was feeling extra generous, even though they had ended their eight year streak of playoff appearances. Darcy Kuemper blocked many shots from close distance that resulted from loose turnovers. Unfortunately he allowed Fasching and Cizikas to score goals in the last six minutes and he had 38 saves overall.
Cizikas said the other team’s goalie did a great job and made some huge saves. He also mentioned that Sorokin did an incredible job of keeping the game close and giving them a chance to make a comeback. However, they still lost in the end.
The Capitals had been losing for six games in a row and were also missing two important players, Alex Ovechkin and T.J Oshie, as well as having to play with one less hockey skater. However, they still managed to win and beat New York! Ryan Strome even scored two goals – setting a personal career record of 23 goals! Afterwards, Kuemper said that everyone showed great character and determination by not giving up the game.
The Islanders worked really hard, but Brock Nelson said there wasn’t enough energy at the beginning, which has made it harder entering the last game of the season. Cizikas said they need to know what they are playing for and be prepared.
On Wednesday night, the Montreal Canadiens will be hosted by the Islanders. Also, on Tuesday night, the Capitals are going to visit the Boston Bruins and they’re trying their best not to let the NHL’s most successful team set a new record with the most points in one season. You can follow AP hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno and you also check out AP NHL [Twitter] at @NHLZonecom and @AP_Sports.