December 18, 2013

Tavares: Isles' shootout loss to Bolts 'frustrating as hell'

By Christian Arnold

John Tavares fights with Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas for the puck. (Getty Images)


UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Islander captain John Tavares described Tuesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning as “frustrating as hell.”

He did so for good reason. The Islanders were 3.8 seconds away from their first regulation win since Nov. 2, when Valtteri Filppula put a loose puck past Evgeni Nabokov to tie the game at two. Just moments earlier, Filppula capitalized on a turnover by Frans Nielsen to start the Lightning comeback.

Up until that point, the Islanders had played a strong game and looked to be headed to a much needed victory.

“We were sound defensively,” Kyle Okposo said of the Islanders performance for much of the game. “Our D worked great, our gaps were good, our defensive game was tight and we didn’t give them anything.”

Okposo gave the Islanders the lead 11 seconds into the second period while his team was on the man advantage. Okposo fired a shot from the point to put the Islanders ahead 1-0.

Things started to look up even more with the Islanders snake-bitten second line generating offensive opportunities and then capitalizing on one in the third.

Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen were able to create a 2-on-1 rush and Nielsen was able to score on the opportunity. The goal was Nielsen’s first since Nov. 19 and Grabner’s assist was his first point since Oct. 17.

However, things fell apart quickly.

Filppula’s goal at 17:07 cut the Islanders’ lead to one and, with bodies flying everywhere in front of the net, found the loose puck and put it past Nabokov.

Shootout goals by Filppula and Nikita Kucherov sealed the win for Tampa Bay.

“It sucks,” Islander coach Jack Capuano said. “Just puck management at the end. Obviously a chance on the first one to get it out and we had two chances on the last goal that they scored to get it out. And then they won the battle in the front of the net.

“We’ve got to find a way, especially as well as we played again for 50 whatever minutes in this game. It’s tough to swallow. We’ve got to find a way to get it done."

The Islanders have made a habit of allowing potential points to slip away. The team has lost 13 of their last 14 contests, including a well-played game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“You just play ‘til the end and make sure they don’t score,” Tavares said. “It’s plain and simple. It’s disappointing and it’s frustrating as hell.”

Twitter: @CA_NYHockey