RALEIGH, N.C. – You could almost hear a pin drop when the puck deflected off defenseman Jaccob Slavin’s chest and landed in the net behind goaltender Eddie Lack with 14 seconds remaining in overtime.
The goal was Cal Clutterbuck’s second of the game and gave the New York Islanders a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Saturday.
“I thought we battled pretty hard besides the first period,” Hurricanes alternate captain Jordan Staal said.
“Second and third were good, and in overtime we had lots of chances, and just didn’t come up with the two points.”
It was New York’s first win over Carolina this season and was critical to them holding onto seventh spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference wildcard race.
With the tie, Carolina added another point to its place in the standings, finishing its ninth game in the last 11 since the Feb. 29 trade deadline with some kind of tangible reward to show for its effort.
“We played real hard here all year, and we don’t want to deviate from that at all,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“I just don’t like the way we started. That just shows whether you’re ready to compete at the stage of at the level you need to be successful at, and we weren’t earlier.”
The overtime loss kept them six points out of the final wildcard playoff spot and didn’t give Carolina much momentum to move farther ahead – somewhat like treading water – bobbing up and down but not moving forward much.
The Hurricanes have seven games remaining in the regular season, so more bobbing could take place.
To their credit though, the Hurricanes impressively bounced back against the Islanders following the first intermission.
Trailing 2-0, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, and Jay McClement scored in succession and overwhelmed Islander goalie Jean-Francois Berube to pull ahead 3-2 with 11:59 to play in the period.
With goaltender Eddie Lack looking steadier than he did during the first, it seemed as though Carolina would hold the upper hand for the remainder of the game.
Clutterbuck soon brought many of the 11,636 in attendance to realize that would not happen.
His first of two consecutive goals tied it up 3-3 just 30 seconds into the third period.
He eventually scored the game winner on what could be considered a lucky bounce to give the Islanders the win.
“They had some bounces in the second period, but I still liked the way that we were playing,” Islanders head coach Jack Campuano said.
“We’re a resilient team on conditioning. Back-to-back nights we went out, we just kept focus, keep staying the course, doing what we’re doing, and we got rewarded for it.”
On the other bench, Peters saw what putting pucks on net could do to get the desired result like Clutterbuck and the Islanders did.
His team just didn’t get that desired finish on this night.
“I just think that as a group of 12 up front, there’s more to give,” Peters said.
“There’s some guys who have more to give believe me, and they need to finish strong.”