The New York Islanders were coming off back-to-back shutout victories when they took the ice to play the Minnesota Wild on Monday, February 19. The shutouts were a sign of hope for the Islanders because they have surrendered the most goals in the NHL this season. Unfortunately, the solid play from the defense and goalies did not continue for a third straight game. They ultimately suffered an extremely disappointing loss to the Wild after giving up five goals.
The game remained a relatively even contest throughout the first period. The Wild started the scoring after seven minutes of play with a goal from Joel Erikkson Ek. It appeared that the Islanders were going to head to the first intermission down by a goal, but Ross Johnston tied the game with 45 seconds remaining in the period.
New York had all of the momentum after scoring the game-tying goal late in the first period, and they used it to their advantage after the short intermission. It only took the Islanders two minutes to take the lead for the first time when Anders Lee recorded his 30th goal of the season. The game took a strange turn after the Islanders got the lead. The offense completely fell apart and struggled to control the puck. This poor play helped the Wild get the next three goals. Tanner Fritz put the Islanders back within one goal to prevent the second period from being a complete disaster.
The Islanders stepped up their offensive pressure in the third period, but they could not find a way to score despite having three different power plays. New York recorded eight more shots than their opponent in the final period, but that did not stop the Wild from extending their lead. Minnesota put the game out of reach with a goal by Jason Zucker with just over three minutes left to play.
While the Islanders are disappointed in this performance, they still have a great shot to grab the last wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They will need to find some way to step up their defense if they want to have any success in the postseason. Jaroslav Halak has the ability to be a dominant goalie, but he should not have to make at least 40 saves every game. New York will look to avoid a losing streak when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, February 22.