Playing in different conferences and in home arenas located more than 1,600 miles apart from one another means the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders don’t share much history.
But the teams will take the ice against each other Sunday afternoon with an unusual bit of familiarity and at least two things in common: A need to collect two pivotal points and a desire to prove some head-scratching play Friday night was an aberration.
The Jets and host Islanders are slated to meet for the second time in five days.
Both teams were off Saturday after defeats at home Friday. The Jets gave up four first-period goals in a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, while the Islanders surrendered three goals in a span of fewer than six minutes in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Jets’ defeat continued an untimely skid as Winnipeg has dropped four of five games and has missed consecutive chances to move ahead of the slumping Dallas Stars into first place in the Central Division.
The Stars entered Saturday mired in a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) but remained one point ahead of Winnipeg, which squandered its first chance to leapfrog Dallas in a 2-1 loss to the Islanders on Wednesday at Elmont, N.Y.
While the Jets outshot the Islanders 26-22 on Wednesday, they were dominated Friday by the Avalanche, which went ahead when Nathan MacKinnon scored 19 seconds after the opening faceoff. Mason Appleton evened the score at the 3:12 mark, but Colorado scored three goals in the next 7:46.
“They scored 19 seconds into the game — it’s unacceptable,” Appleton said. “We rebounded, scored a goal, tied it up and then from there we were chasing the game once they scored their second goal.
“You want to give credit to them, they’re a really good hockey team, but we didn’t help ourselves tonight. We’re a really good hockey team when we want to be. We were not that (Friday).”
The Islanders almost recovered from the Kings’ second period flurry on Friday, when Phillip Danault, Arthur Kaliyev and Gabriel Vilardi scored in a seven-shot span for Los Angeles.
Noah Dobson scored with 3:26 left in the second period and Adam Pelech pulled New York within a goal when his pass into the crease bounced off the skate of Kings defenseman Matt Roy with 4:37 remaining in the third.
But the injury-depleted Islanders – playing without centers Josh Bailey (upper body), Mathew Barzal (lower body) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (upper body), as well as right winger Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) — could not score the equalizer and finished with just 18 shots, their fewest since registering 18 shots against the New York Rangers on Dec. 22.
The loss cost the Islanders a chance to increase their lead in the Eastern Conference wild-card race. New York entered Saturday with 67 points, three more than the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers.
“We allowed the momentum swing to be too big,” Islanders left winger Matt Martin said. “We’ve got to respond right after that a little better, obviously.”
–Field Level Media