Your New York Islanders went for a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday at the NVMC, but struggled to find the broom all afternoon. New York lost a sloppy, unsettled game by the score of 5-3 in front of another sellout crowd. Lineup changes included, Chad Johnson who got the start in goal & Brian Strait in for Lubo Visnovsky on defense. Former Islander D-Man, Jack Hillen was traded to the Hurricanes yesterday and was inserted on the Carolina blue line.
Lee-Tavares-Bailey, Grabner-Nielsen-Strome, Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck, Martin-Mouillierat-McDonald.
Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Hamonic, de Haan-Strait.
Chad Johnson got the start with Jaro Halak backing up.
The Isles worked hard once again, but had trouble clearing their own zone and looked lost right from the start. Chad Johnson kept New York in the game until Michael Grabner (Strome & Boychuk) scored a highlight goal close to the 12:00 mark of the first. Grabner skated in through the hurricanes defense and ripped a shot over Ward to open a 1-0 lead for the Islanders. They were able to get a boost from the goal, but still struggled to find their stride throughout the period and were terrible defensively. Carolina got on the board when McClement directed a puck in with his skate late in the period, but the goal was under review. Somehow, turning heel to clearly direct puck into net is not distinctive. Score tied 1-1. This blown call happened less than 24 hours after Cal Clutterbuck’s legit goal was waived off by NHL officials.
Things didn’t improve in the second period either. Thomas Hickey took a terrible interference penalty and Faulk scored on the ensuing PP to give the Canes a 2-1 lead off a terrible effort by Johnson. Carolina would add two more goals early in the period off suspect defensive play by the Islanders. The lone bright spot of the period was another highlight reel goal. This time by Nikolay Kulemin (Clutterbuck & Hamonic). He simply outworked opposing players and roofed it stick side behind Ward to close the score within 1 at 3-2. The Hurricanes would answer back and repel a re-energized Isles team with two more goals late in the period for a 5-2 score.
The third period was a better defensive effort and John Tavares (Lee & Leddy) scored his 30th of the season to make it a 5-3 game at the 10:00 mark. The Islanders would push hard, but couldn’t outwork the Hurricanes on defense. After a time out, Capuano pulled Johnson with a few minutes left, but New York was unable to mount the comeback this time. 5-3 would be the final. The Islanders were outshot by an inexcusable 41-24 margin. The Isles were 0/1 on the PP and 3/5 on the PK.
The fact that Isles have played a lot of games in a short time needs to be a nonfactor going forward. They can't use it as crutch, because it will get worse going into the playoffs. They need to wake up. You cannot play a team well below you in the standings and not get up for them or exploit their weaknesses. And as they struggle to improve their PK, they cannot keep taking penalties like this. Defensively, the Islanders were off and they continued to have meltdowns throughout the game, even after blocking 23 shots in the game. They were also guilty of giving up late goals in each of the first two periods, yet again, and gave up momentum going into the intermission. Johnson (36 of 41 with an .878Sv%) had a few soft goals, but he wasn’t the reason for the loss. We know that it’s also possible that Nielsen isn’t at 100% and it seems like the losses of guys like Okposo, Cizikas, Grabovski are starting to make an impact. While the team depth is good, the Isles may have lost a little too much up front to play at the level in which they need to play. With inconsistent pressure up front, the defense has struggled to maintain the blue line despite some pretty good efforts as individuals.
There were a couple of good things. Michael Grabner continues to gain speed and dictate a lot of the play when he is on the ice. If he keeps playing this hard, good things will happen. John Tavares got #30 of the season and put himself in 1st place (65pts) for the scoring title by virtue of having the most goals amongst top point getters in the league. It marks the 2nd 30 goal season of his career and puts him 1 goal away from a career best set in 11-12 (31). Tavares, when asked about hitting 30 goal mark. “I don't want to talk about that. Ask me at the end of the season.”
Johnny Boychuk was named 3rd star of the game.
So the Isles made some of the same mistakes and got beaten by a more motivated Carolina team. They need to bounce back in Dallas on Tuesday at 8:30pm.
Ryan Strome was a +22 coming into yesterday’s game.