It’s starting to look like the Islanders are running out of gas before the finish line.
This was more than just another loss, a 3-1 defeat to the Predators on Monday night at Barclays Center, but a second consecutive disheartening performance for an Islanders team with its postseason hopes teetering in the balance.
But now, the Isles’ wiggle room has gone from very little to almost nonexistent over the final seven games of the season. And it’s going to take a deep revival in their game to make it happen.
“I think we’re in the position we’re in, so every game is huge, every point is huge,” interim head coach Doug Weight said Monday morning.
The Islanders (35-28-12) started the game two points behind the Bruins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, having lost a tough game to Boston in Brooklyn on Saturday. But the Predators (39-25-11) hardly were coming in complacent, fighting for their own playoff positioning in the Central Division.
“We’re all in the same boat right now, jockeying for position,” Weight said. “They want to win every game they can, too.”
Weight started the third by putting standout rookie Josh Ho-Sang on the top line next to captain John Tavares and bumping Josh Bailey down in hopes of creating offense. But it still was hard to come by as they struggled to generate any sustained pressure on Predators backup goalie Juuse Saros.
In the final few seconds, with the Islanders net empty, Tavares lost one of many faceoffs on the night and Ryan Johansen finished things off into the open cage to make it 3-1.
The Isles had played almost all of the opening 40 minutes with little jump, hardly generating any grade-A scoring chances while going down 2-1. It was a confusing amount of energy for a team that desperately needed the two points.
They did get a little momentum when Bailey tipped in a Nick Leddy shot with 2:40 remaining in the second period, cutting the Predators lead in half going into the third….