For all the optimism around the Islanders right now, making up points in the playoff race has proven to be a difficult task.
And by losing to the Flames 5-2 at home on Saturday, with Mackenzie Weegar’s hat trick helping hand the Isles their first loss since the All-Star break, the home side lost another few inches on the pack at a moment when gaining everything they can is nothing short of vital.
After putting in a nearly perfect performance against Tampa on Thursday for their best performance under Patrick Roy, this was easily their worst since the new head coach was brought in.
The Islanders, missing Alexander Romanov with a lower-body issue, struggled to generate offense as Calgary did a good job keeping them to the outside and limiting high-danger chances.
The energy, aside from fits and starts, wasn’t quite there.
The second line was the only grouping to generate much offense with breakouts in general lacking.
It didn’t help either that some breaks — for example, a freak first-period goal scored by Kyle Palmieri that was waved off for offside — went against the Isles.
No one expects the Isles to win every game.
But the Islanders have to worry about fending off the Penguins and Devils behind them — both of whom have games in hand — just as much as catching the Red Wings, Lightning and Flyers.
They dug enough of a hole before Patrick Roy was installed as head coach that at this point, their losses hurt more than the wins help.
This one, where the Isles were down 3-0 entering the third and couldn’t pull together enough of a comeback effort, hurts for more reasons than the standings.