The Islanders simply cannot beat good teams this year — a disturbing trend that continues to damage wafer-thin playoff hopes.
Their latest loss came on Sunday night against the Minnesota Wild; a 4-3 decision that saw New York playing catchup all game after a difficult start in which they were trailing 2-0 five minutes into the game.
It didn’t come without a push. The Islanders recorded a season-high 43 shots on goal but couldn’t make up the deficit.
“It’s frustrating as hell for everybody involved and you don’t get a point,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s the frustrating point. There are some mentally tough men in that room and we’ll get after the next game.”
“I’d take our chances a lot of nights when we play like that,” forward Brock Nelson added. “Put up 40 shots… You get the lead and play like that, you’re probably going to win most nights.”
In 21 games against teams over .500 this year, the Islanders are now 4-14-3 this season while getting outscored 67-36.
They’ve made zero ground in the playoff race as they sit 17 points out of a playoff spot — a nightmare season that has featured a 13-game road trip to start and a COVID outbreak that sidelined nearly half the roster.
“We lost wiggle room at the start of the year,” Trotz said. “I don’t think that’s changed. We have almost 45 games left. I can’t tell you what the other teams are going to do, but obviously, we have to gain some ground. We just have to worry about the next game.”
The Islanders have exactly 45 games remaining and getting a top-three spot in the Metropolitan Division already seems like a lost cause. They trail the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins by 25 points with eight games in hand. It makes the Boston Bruins’ status as a wild-card team 17 points ahead with five games in hand a more feasible target.
“We’re not running out of time but we realize that we need to get points,” Nelson said.
They host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night in the first leg of a back-to-back that ends with a Wednesday meeting with the Seattle Kraken.
This story first appeared on amNY.com.