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Islanders looking to slow down recent setbacks as stretch run arrives

Will the Islanders be able to keep it together as the playoff push arrives?Getty Images

Doug Weight spoke calmly, but there was no mistaking his anger.

It was a few minutes after the Islanders’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Barclays Center Saturday afternoon, and Weight left no doubt how he felt about his team’s performance.

“We just weren’t good,” Weight said. “I just didn’t recognize our team.”

However, the Islanders left with one point —a fact which grew in significance after Toronto lost in overtime to Chicago and Tampa Bay dropped a regulation decision to Washington. The Leafs lead the Islanders by one point for the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth; Tampa Bay is one point behind the Islanders and two behind Toronto. This did little to assuage Weight.

“Probably the worst two periods I’ve seen in a year and a half,” Weight said. “I’m not giving it much praise.”

Indeed, there wasn’t much to praise. The Islanders were outshot 38-22 — although they held a 56-54 advantage in total shot attempts — including 29-13 after the first two periods.

“You never want to spend a lot of time in your [defensive] zone,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “If we play our game it should be the other way around, us playing in the offensive zone and controlling the game.”

The loss to Columbus culminated a week in which the Islanders lost four of five to St. Louis, Carolina, Winnipeg and the Blue Jackets.

And now comes the heavy lifting.

Starting Wednesday night at the Garden, the Islanders will finish the March portion of their schedule against the Rangers, at Pittsburgh, home against Boston, home against Nashville, at Philadelphia and home against the Devils.

Theoretically, the Islanders could enter April still alive for the franchise’s fourth playoff berth in five years or could be wrapping up what would be viewed as a most disappointing season. As such among the determining factors whether or not the Islanders will play meaningful games in the first full week of April will be maintaining a high level of play.

To that end, Weight agreed when it was suggested that the consistency his team played with for most of the franchise-record nine game road trip had slipped.

“If it was black-and-white it would [have been] fixed three games ago,” Weight said. “There’s a million excuses that come into play; that you don’t know whether to overreact or not.

“Disappointing start. I don’t know if I liked more than one or two shifts in the first two periods. We have a team full of character guys and they really care and they know the position we’re in. That certainly came to the forefront in the third period. We simplified and we worked, got the puck in and we worked and shot the puck. A couple guys made some plays for us. It’s disappointing to leave with a point when I felt like — Columbus is a good team and they played really well the first two periods but I don’t think [Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is] going to say [they] played [their] best game. It was an opportunity for us to get two points.”

You can follow Metro New York NHL writer Denis P. Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman.

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