It was a familiar scene for Islanders and their frustrated fans. Defensive breakdowns led directly to two goals as the Carolina Hurricanes downed the Islanders 3-2 at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday night.
All three Carolina goals came in the second period and all three came when the Islanders top line was on the ice. Players on the top line were also responsible for both Islanders goals. In the end, the Islanders just didn’t have enough to win the game.
Coach Jack Capuano said this was a very familiar situation. “If you look at two of the goals,” Capuano said, “we had the puck on our sticks. Guys have to understand that decision making is crucial and the results will be the same if it doesn’t get better.”
After an evenly played and scoreless first period, the Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Manny Malhotra at 6:57. The play was set up by Patrick Dwyer who forced a turnover by Andrew MacDonald and fed Malhotra in the slot. He beat Evgeni Nabokov to score a goal in his third straight game.
The Islanders evened the score quickly as John Tavares finished a give-and-go with Thomas Vanek an beat Anton Khubodin just 44 seconds after the Malhotra goal and the game was quickly tied 1-1.
The Hurricanes scored twice in 57 seconds to take control of the game late in the second period. First Jordan Staal scored off a turnover at 13:12. Thomas Vanek took responsibility for the second Carolina goal. “I missed an assignment on the second goal and from there on out we lost the momentum for a few minutes and before we knew it, it was 3-1,” Vanek admitted. “It’s not good enough. They were good enough to capitalize on their chances.”
It took just 57 seconds for the Hurricanes to make it 3-1. A turnover at center ice led to a scoring chance for Jeff Skinner. Nabokov made the save but couldn’t stop Brett Sutter’s rebound attempt.
The Islanders took 16 shots on goal in the third period but had only a small handful of quality scoring chances. They got one final chance when Alexander Semin was called for unsportsmanlike conduct with 1:57 left in the third period. Vanek scored with 24.2 seconds remaining but the Islanders couldn’t get the equalizer.
Capuano’s frustration was clear during his postgame press conference. He called out his team for their poor decision making and cited a lack of secondary scoring.
“We need other guys to step up for us right now, we need other guys to get to the paint. If not, we’re going to have to make some changes to our lineup,” Capuano said. “We’re giving them an opportunity, they’re working hard but we’ve got to start getting some results from those guys.”
The coach also wanted to see more effort from his players who consistently lost one-on-one battles. “If they want to move forward and they want to win hockey games, it’s the will to compete. Systems don’t mean anything, honestly. It’s about the will, it’s about the compete level. How bad do you want it? That’s what this game comes down to. Goaltending and special teams are crucial, health is obviously a factor, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the will to compete…We had guys who were too nonchalant tonight and they lost a lot of loose pucks.”
The Islanders return to action Monday night when they host the Dallas Stars.
Eric Staal of the Hurricanes left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return.
Attendance was 14,208.
Kyle Okposo’s eight-game scoring streak was ended tonight.
Andrej Sekera of the Hurricanes was a plus-three for the game.