The New York Islanders allowed a season-high eight goals and played one of their worst games of the year in an 8-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at Barclays Center Monday night. This was the kind of game the Islanders had to win if they hope to make the playoffs: a home contest against a team below them in the standings. Instead, they forgot to play defense, got poor goaltending from both starter J.F. Berube and replacement Thomas Greiss and allowed the ‘Canes to move the puck almost at will up and down the ice.
“I don’t know if we were worse with or without the puck today,” exasperated interim head coach Doug Weight said after the game. “We let them fly up the ice untouched. No one was in position…We were just bad all over the ice.”
The game didn’t start off awfully for the Isles who led 1-0 on Ryan Strome’s 13th goal of the year at 9:11 of the first period. But Berube allowed Jacob Slavin to even the game at 14:14 and then Joakim Nordstrom gave Carolina a 2-1 lead just 26 seconds later. Stephen Gionta’s first goal as an Islander tied the score at 2-2 after 20 minutes of hockey that saw both goaltenders look very vulnerable on nearly every shot.
The Isles briefly took the lead early in the second period on a goal by Calvin de Haan at 2:43, but flubs by Berube on shots by Justin Faulk and Jeff Skinner gave Carolina a 4-3 lead. Berube finished the game by allowing four goals on just 13 shots.
“I approached the game the same way I approach every game,” Berube said. “When you don’t play a lot and you start getting scored on, goals that you usually stop stay a little longer in your head. I felt good before the game. I know what I can do. I know I can be a good goalie. I just have to find my game.”
Greiss replaced Berube after the fourth goal and promptly allowed the Hurricanes to score on the first two shots he faced. First, Faulk beat Greiss on a shot that seemed to handcuff the netminder who entered the game cold. Then Slavin scored his second of three goals, this one coming shorthanded at 11:45 of the second period to open up a 6-3 lead for visitors.
The Isles got a glimmer of hope when Joshua Ho-Sang tallied his second goal of the season on the redirection of an Anthony Beauvillier shot with 6:10 left in the second period, but that hope evaporated when Skinner was awarded a penalty shot at 3:43 of the third period. The Toronto native skated in slowly and made several fakes before depositing the puck behind a prone Greiss to make the score 7-4 Carolina. After that the rink and the Islanders were flat.
Slavin closed out the scoring and completed his hat trick with 9:03 remaining to end the Isles embarrassing night at 8-4.
The Islanders are now 0-2-1 against the Hurricanes this season and have surrendered 20 goals in those three contests. Carolina entered the game with the second fewest goals scored in the Eastern Conference this season.
“We’ve got to play a lot harder then we did today and we’ve got to execute at a much higher level,” captain John Tavares said in a somber Isles locker room. “They were just better in a lot of areas. We weren’t as clean coming out of our own end and we weren’t winning as many battles and just weren’t very sharp.”
The good news is the Islanders get a chance for revenge quickly. They face the same Hurricanes in Raleigh Tuesday night in what Weight called “once again the most important game of the year.”
With the loss, the Islanders remain one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs in the race for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Toronto now has one game in hand on the Isles. The Tampa Bay Lightning are now tied with the Islanders after their 3-2 regulation win over the New York Rangers on Monday.
The loss ended an 11-game point streak for the Islanders at home (9-0-2). The last home game the Isles failed to register a point was January 11 in a 2-1 regulation loss to the Florida Panthers.
Ho-Sang had his first career multi-point game.
Despite the Isles allowing eight goals, Stephen Gionta was a plus-three. Brock Nelson was a game-worst minus-four for the Isles.
Andrew Ladd now has a point in his last four games.
Official attendance was 12,785.