NEW YORK — First the lights went out in the Barclays Center before the third period could start, and then they went out on the Islanders chances of winning on Wednesday night.
It was a miscommunication between Thomas Hickey and Robin Lehner that led to the third-period goal from Tomas Nosek, and the eventual 3-2 loss. The error anchored by a turnover by Ryan Pulock in his own end that kicked off the devastating sequence of events.
“We talked it out,” Hickey said about the costly mistake. “I think it looks easy, it looks like it’s there, but there’s blindspots for the goalie and you’re trying to communicate. Wanting him to cover it and he couldn’t see it. He didn’t know where it was. It’s on the both of us to communicate and get it out of harm or cover it.”
It was Pulock’s attempt to move the puck that got picked off by the Golden Knights. After Lehner made an initial stop the puck sat idly in front of the Islander starter and Hickey until Nosek came charging in to slam the puck into the back of the net.
The loss followed an all too familiar storyline, with the Islanders playing well enough to compete with a tough opponent before letting points slip away in the end. The Islanders only snapped a two-game skid last Saturday with a gritty win over Detroit and had hoped it would kickstart the team going forward.
Wednesday’s third-period miscue was just the latest mistake that cost the Islanders a win. The Islanders have now dropped back-to-back games since Saturday’s win.
“It’s a missed opportunity. I thought we played well in so many areas of the game, but we gave them things that were a little bit unforced,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Turnovers cost us and I thought we held a pretty good hockey team that’s been really hot to 17 shots. You feel that you can get a point out of that.”
Trotz later added: “We find ways to give teams easy goals. The group is working really hard to make it really hard to defend and then we’ll give one easy one up.”
The Islanders and Golden Knights had been tied at two heading into the third period. There was a 16-minute delay to start the final period because of a lighting issue at the Barclays Center.
Vegas had taken the early lead to start the game on Wednesday. Jonathan Marchessault scored a power-play goal 34 seconds into the game to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.
Anthony Beauvillier evened the score at one less than three minutes later. The Islanders took their only lead of the game 11:19 into the second period off a shot from Adam Pelech.
William Karlsson evened the game right back up at 16:31.
The Islanders have won just two of their last eight games (2-4-2) and have scored just 14 goals in that span. And the Islanders haven’t won consecutive games since November 23 and November 24 when they beat the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes on back-to-back nights.
“We just have to stick with it,” Anders Lee said. “It’s a frustrating thing to say sometimes because you feel like you’re not getting what you deserve, but there’s plenty of games where you win where you had no business winning.”