The components making up this loss are nothing unfamiliar with the team—we saw some ugly habits return and fans caught a glimpse of what the team was playing like three weeks ago.
In all honesty, this game truly was the Islanders' to win. They came out, scored first, forechecked hard, won puck battles and, for a few minutes, put in some work against Pittsburgh with a good cycle and plenty of shots leaving the Pens scrambling.
Ullstrom notched his second NHL goal in beautiful fashion, cutting to the outside of Picard and roofing a wrister past Fleury. Milan Jurcina struck next, with a cannon point shot putting the Isles up by two in what looked like would turn out to be a good game for the Islanders against a team that would put even more pep in their step.
Pittsburgh fired back, though, making quick work off of two huge defensive miscues, one by Streit and the other by Hamonic, who was more than disappointed in himself, then tied it up with less than half a minute remaining in the first.
Kyle Okposo came out strong and netted the third goal for the Islanders and regained the lead, and then it all unraveled.
Travis Hamonic, in the process of bumping into Brooks Orpik, fell victim to a fantastic theatrical performance. Orpik, in short, took a liking to putting his own stick to his forehead and fell to the ice, then rising with blood dripping from his forehead and skated off to the dressing room.
The referees then declared the Hamonic delivered a hit to Orpik's head, gave him a five-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct, while explaining very little to Hamonic, the captain Streit or Jack Capuano.
If now isn't the time for video reviews of all major penalties to be handed out, then who knows when is, because this call was just ridiculous.
This was the beginning of the end to be honest. The Penguins scored quickly on the power play, and although the Isles managed to kill off over three minutes of 5-on-4 play, the tone was set. Instead of rebounding and working off of the strong penalty kill, they fell into old habits.
The Isles stopped forechecking, stopped going hard to pucks, had trouble settling the puck and moving it forwards, then fell into a rut, surrendered three more goals, resulting in a 6-3 loss.
What We Can Really Take Away From This Game
First and foremost, in all reality this was the first regulation loss the Islanders have had in seven games. They can be a winning team, but sometimes they are their own worst enemy.
The Islanders really have to work to win games. The first line did almost nothing tonight, Moulson's name was mentioned seemingly around a whole two times during the broadcast and the defense just seemed out of stride halfway through the second.
It was rather apparent the only effort came in from the third and fourth line.
Their power-play habit of dumping the puck in is horrible—too many times did they attempt to enter the zone with almost no speed and just dumped the puck into the backboard, essentially giving the puck to the Pens.
How the Isles work with this loss and bounce back is going to be important to resuming in the points race. They did well the past few weeks, worked hard and earned their points.
The team must get back into working hard and stay away from the old habits from weeks prior.