- Craig Custance
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Following his team's gutsy 3-2 shootout win over the Sharks, Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey turned to a teammate in the dressing room and concluded that the first period was as tough as any he's ever played in professional hockey.
The Sharks came out flying, outshooting the Islanders 18-3 in a flurry of offensive domination that pointed strongly in the direction of another road loss for the struggling Islanders.
"The shots. A couple long kills. We seemed to get stuck out there," Hickey said. "It takes a lot out of you."
In coming back to beat the Sharks, the Islanders showed resiliency. A first period that could have completely sunk a struggling team didn't. They weathered it and survived. The hope in the room was that their winless streak goes the same way. The injuries, the losses, the speculation surrounding the coach ... they're weathering it, at least trying to do so.
"Stick together and keep going," Hickey said of the Islanders' mentality when we chatted after the game. "You don't think it's going to take 10 games. ... You can start to doubt, but we haven't done that at all. Those hard times, not that they're positive, but we're going to look back on them and sort of build off them."
That has to be the hope, although one win still leaves plenty of ground to make up. At the very least, it salvaged what was another otherwise ugly night for the erratic New York-area hockey teams. The Devils lost to a Columbus team missing its starting goalie. The Rangers gave up four goals in losing to a mediocre Nashville team.
The Islanders, Devils and Rangers have cornered the market on unpredictability this season, so projecting how they will perform moving forward isn't an easy exercise. But we'll try anyway. With help from ESPN Insider's Corey Pronman, who takes a look at the prospects coming for each of these teams, here's a ranking of how the future looks for the three New York-area teams.
Here's the reality: You can like the Islanders prospects better than any of the Rangers prospects. And the Devils have the best coach and GM duo among the three teams. But the Rangers spend more than any of them, and that makes up for a lot of mistakes.