The blood oozed from the bridge of Islanders forward Frans Nielsen’s nose inside Verizon Center’s cramped visiting locker room Monday night, the wounds from New York’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in the decisive Game 7 of this Eastern Conference first-round series still fresh. He paused for seconds at a time, cringing as he accepted the burden the rest of his teammates would carry with them into the offseason.

“We didn’t play the way we play,” Nielsen said.

This realization, more than the game-winner Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov scored with less than eight minutes remaining, will haunt these Islanders for months to come. They mustered a season-low 11 shots on goal and watched Washington control the puck like few have against them this season.

For once in this grueling battle, New York could only concede the moment might have been too big for a franchise that still hasn’t won an NHL playoff series in 22 years.

“We seemed like we didn’t want to make a mistake,” captain John Tavares said.

Such a cruel ending led Coach Jack Capuano to reflect on what went wrong all series long.

His defensive corps, already depleted with defenseman Travis Hamonic out because of an injury suffered late in the regular season, lost two more players — veterans Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan — thanks, in part, to Washington’s size advantage. In their place, the Islanders were forced to play a defensive pairing that featured one player who appeared in just 12 games this season (Matt Donovan) and another who only got called up from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate seven days ago (Scott Mayfield).

Though that duo held its own for the most part, the extra ice time forced on others wore down New York over seven games. After relying on an aggressive forecheck all year long, the Islanders’ defense was held without a goal in the playoffs. Capuano called this, and the team’s dormant power play, the difference in the series.

For a time, though, it appeared goalie Jaroslav Halak, the same netminder who doomed the Capitals’ playoff hopes just five years ago when he played for the Montreal Canadiens, might just steal Game 7 by himself once Nielsen tied the score at 1 early in the third period.

He stopped one point-blank attempt by Washington’s Jay Beagle that came from a wild carom off the Verizon Center boards and then stuffed another shot from the slot by Capitals forward Troy Brouwer. Brouwer snapped his stick in half in frustration. But the Islanders never could grab momentum.

“It just seemed like we really struggled to get anything going. I’m not sure what it was,” forward Cal Clutterbuck said. “We’ve got a lot of time to figure it out.”

They will also never again play a game at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum, a caveat Capuano used as motivation in his team’s most important game of the year. With the franchise scheduled to move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center next season, he elected to show his players the arena’s opening montage before Monday’s affair, complete with the chants New York’s boisterous fans use every game.

That the Islanders won’t hear them again had only begun to sink in.

“It was intense. It was physical. It was draining,” Tavares said. “It took a lot each and every game, which makes it difficult to believe we’re not waking up tomorrow and moving on.”