Saturday night, the Islanders desired to celebrate the reintroduction of the Fisherman jersey. However, the game was reminiscent of 1995 in more ways than only their clothes.
The night after scoring six goals in a high-flying, end-to-end effort against the Devils, the Islanders’ attack went silent in a 3-0 loss at UBS Arena against the Hurricanes. After what could have been their finest victory of the season, Saturday’s game could have been their worst defeat, bringing their record to 17-12-0.
Carolina triumphed by replicating what the Islanders have done to so many opponents in recent seasons: playing with a relentless forecheck and tenacity, capitalizing on a few scoring opportunities, and dominating a low-event game. With the exception of Mathew Barzal, the Islanders were incapable of skating properly and struggled to penetrate the neutral zone with worrying frequency.
The Hurricanes won due to Paul Stastny’s goal at 7:06 of the second period, assisted by Andrei Svechnikov’s cross-crease pass.
Anders Lee’s interference effectively nullified the Islanders’ five-on-three advantage, which was scheduled to play for 1:15 in the first period.
Carolina teammates celebrate Jordan Stahl’s goal against Ilya Sorokin in the Hurricanes’ 3-0 victory over the Islanders.
At 4:05 of the third period, Jesperi Kotkaniemi deflected a point shot by Brent Burns to extend Carolina’s lead by two goals. And despite the fact that the Islanders have often appeared capable of overcoming deficits and turning the tide of games this season, they were unable to do it on Saturday.
At 8:49 of the third period, the Islanders conceded a third goal rather than scoring one, as Jordan Staal converted Jordan Martinook’s pass.
Compared to Friday night, the Islanders’ performance was night-and-day. In contrast to the last game, which was packed with intensity, this one felt like a balloon steadily losing air. The Hurricanes rendered the game tedious, and the Islanders were unable to reply. Even when head coach Lane Lambert utilized the top line of Lee, Barzal, and Brock Nelson, the Islanders were unable to generate scoring chances.
Simon Holmstrom skates with the puck as the Islanders are defeated.
On the power play, they appeared fragmented, and they struggled to execute zone exits at even strength. The Islanders had at least 40 shots in three of their previous four games, but only 16 on Saturday. They were shut out for just the third time this season, and they didn’t give Carolina goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov much trouble.
Whether the Islanders became fatigued following a hard game against the Devils or were simply thwarted by the Hurricanes, the outcome was identical. Even though Carolina did not generate much offense, what it did generate was sufficient.
With only four points separating second and sixth place in the Metropolitan Division, both coaches emphasized the significance of divisional games before the encounter.
Rod Brind’Amour of Carolina stated, “I believe it is the top division in hockey.” “Everything will come down to the wire.”
Lambert stated, “It’s just tight.” “I perceive it to be a war until the bitter end.”
With 36 points to the Islanders’ 34, Carolina had reclaimed second place after 60 minutes of play. It was just the type of performance the Islanders would have like to avoid before embarking on a five-game road trip including tough contests against the Bruins, Golden Knights, and Avalanche.
This is the margin for error in the division, and it shrunk for the Islanders on Saturday.