The New York Islanders came out flat for the first 40 minutes of their 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. They improved their play in the third period, but their late rally fell short. Worse yet, the Isles lost veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnosky in the first period due to a concussion. Visnovsky will be evaluated Sunday by team doctors to determine the seriousness of the injury.
Captain John Tavares described his team’s poor performance, particularly in the second period. “We were slow…just circling and not stopping on pucks, not winning battles, bad changes. It was a bad period, probably one of our worst of the year…We did some better things in the third but that urgency and that compete level has to be there right from the get go.”
Neither team looked particularly strong in the first period. The Islanders had a pair of power play chances but failed to convert and the game remained scoreless. The shots on goal were even at 7-7.
The big loss in the first period was Visnovsky. Without him, the Isles were down to five defensemen which meant the remaining blueliners had to juggle their pairings and get increased ice time. In the end, Andrew MacDonald played 30:25 while Travis Hamonic was on ice for 27:32.
Jiri Tlusty gave Carolina a 1-0 lead just 1:05 into the second period and the Hurricanes never trailed after that. Tlusty put home the rebound of a shot from Alex Semin to score the game’s first goal.
Then, Jordan Staal added a power play goal at 6:36 of the second stanza off a pretty cross ice pass from Ryan Murphy. It was the younger Staal’s first goal of the season.
The Hurricanes took a 3-0 lead at the 13:37 mark of the second period on an odd-man rush that was set up by a giveaway at the Carolina blue line. Jeff Skinner cashed in and the game seemed all but out of reach for the Isles.
But the home team rallied late in the second period. Matt Moulson pounced on the rebound of a shot from the point by MacDonald and the Isles were on the board. John Tavares was credited with an assist on the goal which extended his point scoring streak to to seven games. The goal gave the Isles an emotional boost heading into the third period but they still trailed 3-1.
“We were standing around a bit too much and we got burnt. It’s just unacceptable,” explained MacDonald when asked about his team’s slow start. “I think everyone knows the way we need to play. That’s a fast, north-south game and to get pucks in. It’s frustrating after we had a couple of good games earlier in the week and we come back with this kind of effort early.”
Carolina all but salted the game away on Tlusty’s second goal of the night. A bad giveaway led to a 2-on-1 for Semin and Tlusty. Semin’s pass went over the stick of the defenseman and Tlusty converted the chance. The Hurricanes had a 4-1 lead with 8:54 left on the clock.
To their credit, the Isles didn’t quit. A power play goal by Frans Nielsen with 5:41 left made it 4-2 and then Kyle Okposo scored with Nabokov off for an extra skater with 1:01 remaining to make it 4-3. But that was as close as the Islanders got and Carolina skated away with the victory.
Isles Coach Jack Capuano was not pleased with his team’s performance. “Tonight you saw one move too much,” Capuano said. “One move too many when we should have just gotten pucks to the net and crashed. That’s what happens. We got behind. We were resilient in the third and came back, but that’s the way we have to play for 60 minutes.”
The Islanders return to action Tuesday night when they wrap up their four-game home stand against the Vancouver Canucks.
Attendance was 13,008.
Matt Moulson finished with a goal and two assists to lead the Islanders.
Matt Martin had six of the Islanders’ 13 hits in this game. The Hurricanes team was only credited with seven hits.
Casey Cizikas won seven-of-nine faceoffs in the game.
After the game, the Islanders loaned Brock Nelson to Bridgeport of the AHL.