One game after outslugging the highest-scoring team in the NHL, the New York Islanders had no answer for one of the league's best goaltenders.
With their own goalie situation settling down upon Jaroslav Halak's return, a matchup against the light-scoring Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday could be just what the Islanders need to start turning things around.
New York (22-14-5) has been shaky in net over its last three games with a combined 14 goals allowed, though the talented opposition certainly played a significant role.
Sandwiched between a 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh last Saturday and Thursday's 4-1 home defeat against Washington was Sunday's 6-5 victory against a Western Conference-leading Dallas team averaging a league-high 3.4 goals this season.
It was the third time during a 4-2-0 stretch that the Islanders won with at least five goals, but they couldn't manage much against Capitals netminder Braden Holtby despite peppering him with 35 shots. That robust total even marked a dip for New York, which threw 44 shots at the Penguins and 40 at the Stars.
The Isles fell behind 2-0 after one period of a loss that extended first-place Washington's lead over them in the Metropolitan Division to 14 points.
"We have to be better out of the gate," said captain John Tavares, who was held off the scoresheet for the second straight game after earning his third consecutive All-Star selection a day earlier. "We were a little slow to start today. There's a reason they've only lost a handful of times. ... We have to raise our level and be better."
Halak was activated off injured reserve Tuesday after missing five games due to an upper-body injury and stopped 35 of 38 shots in his first action since Dec. 21.
He'll likely be in goal against the Flyers considering his strong play in the first two meetings. Halak won both those starts with a 1.92 GAA, and although he allowed three goals in a 4-3 shootout win at Philadelphia on Dec. 8, he faced a season-high 46 shots.
Frans Nielsen scored three goals in those two games, and Kyle Okposo had a goal and an assist, but Tavares was quiet with a single assist.
Philadelphia (17-15-7) is second to last in the league with 2.21 goals per game but has followed a three-game skid that featured five total goals with a pair of 4-3 wins.
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto scored his second of the game - and just his third of the season - with 37 seconds left in overtime to beat Minnesota on Thursday.
"I haven't had a ton of bounces go in for me or anything like that, so it was nice to be able to contribute offensively and help the team win," Del Zotto said.
After holding Montreal scoreless on four power plays in Tuesday's home victory, the Flyers stopped Minnesota on two chances with the advantage to end their road skid at five. They had allowed eight power-play goals in the previous five games.
The club returns home looking to extend a four-game win streak there since losing to the Islanders. Philadelphia, 6-1-1 in its last eight on home ice, has earned at least a point in its last nine at home in the series, going 5-0-4 in that span.
New York hasn't won in regulation at Wells Fargo Center since a 4-1 victory on Jan. 19, 2012, that snapped a 13-game skid in Philadelphia.