The New York Islanders outshot, outchanced and outplayed the Anaheim Ducks. The only thing the Ducks did right was win.
Saku Koivu scored 3:40 into the third period to break a scoreless tie and Curtis McElhinney made 27 saves for his first NHL shutout as the Ducks won their fifth in a row by beating the Islanders 1-0 on Wednesday night -- handing New York its eighth consecutive loss.
All five of the Ducks' victories during the streak have been by one goal, including a 3-2 OT win at San Jose on Tuesday. The losing streak is the Islanders' longest since they dropped 10 in a row in December 1997 and January 1998.
"It's frustrating, obviously," said Isles coach Scott Gordon, whose team has not led during the losing streak. "We had a great scoring chance right before they scored, we don't cash in on it and they came back and their player made a pretty good shot.
"Like I told our guys, unfortunately, we can't score right now. We had 27 shots on net, we had another 36 that were blocked or missed the net. Sometimes that's an indication that you're trying too hard, looking for the perfect opportunity. The defensive effort we've had the last two games has been great. Eventually the offensive side is going to change for us as long as we continue to play with the kind of effort we had tonight."
After the Isles were unable to convert on their fifth power play of the night, despite numerous chances, the Ducks started a 4-on-3 rush that ended with Koivu stepping into a pass from Cam Fowler and blasting a 20-foot slap shot from the left of the slot past Dwayne Roloson's glove. The goal came on the Ducks' ninth shot of the night. The finished with just 14.
"We knew it was going to be tough," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. " We were playing a young, energized Islander team. Having played last night in San Jose, we knew it would be a tough struggle. These are the type of games that you almost have to win. In our situation, we couldn’t accept anything other than a win. That was our focus."
It was a frustrating night for the Islanders, who haven't won since a 3-2 overtime victory at Tampa Bay on Oct. 21. They outshot Anaheim 7-1 in the first period, 18-7 through 40 minutes, and pressured McElhinney for the majority of the game -- with no results, partly because they missed the net on 21 attempts and had 15 more shots blocked.
"We held them to 14 shots, but it doesn't matter," said Isles defenseman James Wisniewski, who played for the Ducks last season, "because we lost 1-0."
Anaheim went more than 18 minutes in the first period before getting its first shot of the game and rarely tested Roloson through 40 minutes. But despite controlling the play and earning four power plays, the Islanders didn't mount much sustained pressure on McElhinney, whose defense cleared the few rebounds he left.
"It’s never easy to play back-to-backs, especially when the other team had a couple of days off," Koivu said. "They were fresh and were coming hard at us in the first period. You were able to tell that we didn’t have the jump that we usually have.
"When you have a tough schedule, with a lot of games and travel, you’re going to have nights where you’re not going to feel your best. Good teams find ways to win these games. We did tonight."
The five straight wins is the longest Ducks streak since Jan. 5-13 of last season. It also equals, with Washington, the longest current winning streak in the NHL.
"We didn’t play our best," Koivu said, "but when you get two points that is what matters. We have to keep working on things that we can improve."