Isles Head Out West Seeking Improvements

Prepping for their four-game road trip, the Islanders know that there’s work to be done offensively and defensively. Yet even after a shootout defeat on Monday afternoon at Barclays Center, they can feel proud of themselves.

Seemingly down and out, 0-2, late in the third period, Doug Weight‘s skaters obtained goals from Andrew Ladd (13:04) and– with goalie Thomas Greiss pulled for an extra skater– and Anders Lee who tied the contest with a minute left in regulation.

John Tavares just missed winning the game early in overtime.

The Captain’s bit of drama then was followed by Greiss’ puck-saving heroics during an OT penalty kill that eventually sent the game to the Shootout. This time Blues goalie Jake Allen prevailed for the 3-2 triumph.

Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko — Vlad got the Blues’ other two regulation goals — easily beat Greiss while Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvilier had shootout strikeouts for the home club.

“We played into their hands early,” said Weight, “and then started skating, playing in their zone and got shots on net. It’s a big point considering we were down 2-0 against that hockey club.”

Anaheim is the first stop for the Isles Expeditionary Force on Wednesday. Based on their relentless attacks in Brooklyn, Tavares is optimistic about the club jelling on the road.

“We had 42 shots,” the Captain remembered, “so that shows that we had opportunities. But we have to be better at getting more quality chances. It wasn’t our best game but we played a proven team and had a good comeback.”

Tavares was referring to an Islanders middle period power play onslaught that could have been a game-maker for the Brooklynites but it produced nothing.

The man advantage — over 4:37 including a 5-on-3 over 1:23 with the score knotted at 0-0 — essentially was the result of Jake Allen’s superior puck-stopping.

“Allen was seeing everything tonight,” said Lee, who still managed to beat Jake for the game-tying counter from Anders’ familiar acreage outside the crease.

“Jake controlled his rebounds and his defense was playing tough in front. The way he was seeing stuff like that it was tough to get opportunities and second chances.”

Overall, the Islanders failed on all six man-advantage situations; hardly a prescription for success.

Weight indicated that his rookies, Josh Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal, still need to hone their games to a better level of sharpness.

“I’ll have a five-and-a-half hour plane trip with each of them,” Weight assured. “I will speak to them thirty-minutes each.

“They’re good kids; good hockey players but this is ‘Big Boy’ hockey.”

After meeting the Ducks, the Weight-men then face San Jose Saturday, followed by the Kings on Sunday. Their return to the East coast features a meeting with the Rangers on October 19 at The Garden.

Buoyed by the home opener win on Saturday, Weight was hoping for an energetic effort to construct a W streak prior to the Duck duel. He got the energy but not the goals until Andrew Ladd tallied with just under seven minutes left in regulation followed by Lee’s red light.

Captain Tavares, who scored twice in helping defeat Buffalo, executed a brilliant maneuver to get into shooting position at the start of overtime and for a split-second thought he had the winner.

“I knew that the ice wasn’t great,” JT explained, “so I didn’t want to force a pass. That enabled Allen get a good look (at his shot.) He got a little fortunate. The shot clipped his jersey and went on the wrong side of the post.

Then, a pause: “Obviously I would have loved to have seen it go in; that one will be in my dreams tonight.”

Weight started Greiss in goal — somewhat of a surprise since Jaroslav Halak starred in Saturday’s winner — and Greiss played capably until Tarasenko converted a backhander at 9:38 of the second period.

After Tarasenko put St. Louis ahead by two at 15:34, the goal was challenged by Weight as an offside play. Review went against New York giving the defense-solid Blues what eventually seemed like an insurmountable lead.

It didn’t happen that way and now the Isles prepare for their West invasion. Clearly, they must eliminate the pitfalls displayed in the loss to St. Louis.

It starts with better power play conversions and choice of plays as well as eliminating key defensive breakdowns as revealed en route to the first visitors’ goal.

During the MSG+ pre-game show Shannon Hogan and The Maven discussed whether Tarasenko is now on the cusp of super-stardom.

My conclusion was that this particular game would provide a good clue. For one game at least, the rapid Russian played as if he belongs in the exalted realm. His regulation game pair of red lights and the clinching shootout goal proved that.

Nevertheless, the Isles should be heartened by their rally and sterling play by Eberle who was robbed point blank by Allen early in the period.

Undaunted, the Isles poured more dangerous volleys at Allen during a third period power play but Jake’s saves coupled with Lady Luck — two hit posts that just eluded Brock Nelson — that kept the frustrated home side scoreless.

Next it was Beauvillier’s wraparound which was blunted by the alert Blues goalie.

With tenacity and grim determination, the Isles maintained the attacks and finally were rewarded with Ladd and Lee’s red lights.

“Home or road,” concluded Weight, “it was a good one point; a big point.”

Tavares seconded the motion: “We’ll take the point and look forward to this coming week!”