Islanders Struggle At Home Without Hamonic

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The boos rained down from Barclays Center as the Islanders turned in one of their most disappointing performances of the season, falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0 in Brooklyn.

The Islanders were able to escape with victories against substandard opponents in their last three games, but those tricks did not work against the red-hot Penguins.

“There are no excuses for that effort. Its embarrassing, starting with myself,” Islanders’ captain John Tavares told reporters after the game. “It’s a big game, important time of year. To play the way we did is unacceptable.”

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The ice in Brooklyn has certainly been a problem recently, but there is no excuse that makes this type of effort adequate.

“We can’t come out and play like that at home, in a playoff race when we are trying to fight for home ice,” alternate captain Kyle Okposo stated. “It was a huge game and it wasn’t a very good effort by our club.”

J.F. Berube got the start in goal for New York, and in the opening period he helped Penguins’ forward Oskar Sundqvist tally his first NHL goal. While the Islanders were on the man advantage, Berube and Nick Leddy had a costly miscommunication. Sundqvist collected the loose puck and snapped a wrist shot to open up the scoring.

“There is no question he struggled,” Capuano said of Berube. “We are going to need him. I am sure he would like to have a couple back, but its on him now. He is a professional and he has to battle through it.”

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With Travis Hamonic out for the remainder of the regular season, and possibly longer, Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano turned to veteran blueliner Marek Zidlicky instead of 2013 first-round pick Ryan Pulock.

Zidlicky has been known throughout his career as an offensive defenseman, but only played 48 seconds on the power play. Pulock might be young and inexperienced, but could be a difference maker. If Capuano only plans on using Zidlicky a tiny bit on the man advantage, then the Islanders need to insert Pulock into the lineup.

Pittsburgh has been surging recently (11-1-0 in last 12 games) and will most likely have home-ice in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Islanders have been unable to clinch a playoff berth as of yet.

The Islanders need to elevate their play in a hurry with the Lightning, Capitals and Rangers all on the schedule for this upcoming week.

The loss leaves the Isles five points behind the Penguins with a game in hand. They remain three points behind the Rangers who play later tonight against Buffalo. With this victory, Pittsburgh has clinched a playoff spot.

This loss really puts a huge dent in the Islanders’ chances for home-ice in the first round of the playoffs. But the Flyers are right behind the Islanders and the second wild card team has to play the league-leading Capitals in the first round.

The Isles may have been able to beat up on the teams not going to the playoffs, but a 5-0 division loss against a 21-year-old rookie goalie is inexcusable in April.

The Islanders have not had home ice advantage in a playoff series since 1987-88. That’s 27 and soon to be 28 consecutive seasons without home-ice in the playoffs.

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