The New York Islanders are growing more and more frustrated as they
dropped their seventh straight game, a 3-1 loss to the Carolina
Hurricanes at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday night. Rookie goalie Justin Peters made 34
saves to earn the win in his first NHL start.
The Hurricanes got goals from Jussi Jokinen, Patrick Dwyer and Joni Pitkanen while Frans Nielsen’s shorthanded tally was all the Islanders could manage despite outshooting the Canes 35-25.
To a man, the Islanders feel that they played well but can’t find a winning formula.
“It seems like we’re playing good periods when we’re playing really well and then we have a few mistakes or a few shifts when we’re just not playing at the top of our game,” explained John Tavares. “It ends up costing us or we lose our momentum.”
The first goal of the game came at the 14:32 mark of the first period. Pitkanen brought the puck deep into the Isles zone and centered the puck but it deflected off the stick of Islanders’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald and right to DiPietro. DP made a pad save but the rebound came right to Jokinen who easily put the puck into an open side of the goal.
Early in the second period, the Islanders nearly evened the score when Matt Moulson scored on a scramble in front of Peters but the referees immedidiately waived it off, explaining that the whistle had blown before the puck went into the goal.
“We had some bad breaks, obviously,” Tavares said. “That puck’s loose and he jams it in there. Its a tough call for the referee.”
The game was actually tied up on a shorthanded goal by Nielsen. Blake Comeau made an aggressive forecheck and forced Pitkanen to cough up the puck. Comeau found Nielsen breaking towards the crease and made it 1-1 at the 9:25 mark of the second period.
The Hurricanes took the lead for good with just 4:24 left in the middle stanza on Dwyer’s goal. The play started when the puck took a hard bounce off the back boards and Brandon Sutter tried a wraparound. DP made the initial save but Dwyer poked home the rebound for the game winner.
The Islanders best chance to even the score came on a breakaway by Comeau early in the third period but Peters made a big pad save to preserve the lead for Carolina.
Pitkanen scored the insurance goal with exactly 1:00 left in the game. It was not an empty net goal, but DiPietro had already reached the blue line in an attempt to get off the ice for an extra attacker and was unable to get back into the crease on time.
Peters was thrilled with his first NHL win and was quick to thank his teammates.
“I was trying not to think too much and keep it simple as possible,” said
Peters. “It was a real gutsy effort in front and I can’t thank them [my
Isles’ Coach Scott Gordon is trying to keep his struggling team focused and looking ahead.
“We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone but at the end of the day,
we’re still coming up short,” Gordon said. “We’ll try
and put it past us and try and get better tomorrow.”
Frustration is growing in the New York locker room and the players are searching for answers.
“We need wins desperately,” Matt Moulson admitted. “It’s frustrating not to get them when we need them, especially when you’re woring hard. We need to find a way to win.”
“We’ve just got to get back to basics and keep doing the things we were doing earlier,” Tavares added. “On the last good stretch we had, we were playing well as a whole team and everyone was playing well and we had every guy contributing.”
Goalie Rick DiPietro summed it up by saying the team needs a win, “As bad as you can possibly need a win. We need a spark, we need someone to turn it around.”
Josh Bailey was scratched due to an upper body injury. The Isles sent backup goalie Martin Biron down to Bridgeport to get some playing time this weekend.
Cam Ward missed his second straight came for Carolina due to a bad back.
Eric Staal’s 11-game point scoring streak came to an end.