RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes suffered a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller described his team’s situation in the game accurately when he said, “you can’t come out and spot a team four goals in the first period and think you’re gonna’ come back and win the hockey game.”
The loss might have resulted from the fact that the Hurricanes thought they would have an easy go of it against the Islanders, a team they had beaten three times already this season.
Or maybe they were riding too high coming off a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday that gave them some false sense of security that they didn’t need to work hard to post another win over their Metropolitan Division last-place opponent.
Whatever the reason, many were lost for words when talking about.
‘It’s unexplainable at this point,” defenseman Jay Harrison said.
“The feeling we had. The effort we had. That’s not our game. That’s not our preparation. We clearly weren’t ready to go.”
Even though Carolina finished 2-for-4 on the power play with Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin scoring those goals while Andrei Loktionov and Nathan Gerbe added even-strength markers, it wasn’t enough to overcome a 4-0 deficit in the first period.
With goaltender Cam Ward starting in goal following a 34-save performance in beating the Jets, the Hurricanes thought they were ready.
However, New York had a different outcome in mind, and they put pucks on Ward early, outshooting Carolina 6-0 during the first four minutes of play.
The effort paid off as the Islanders took a 1-0 lead at the 3:39 mark and added two more goals shortly afterwards, leading 3-0 and leaving many of the 15,176 in attendance scratching their heads.
While New York was celebrating two goals from Colin McDonald and a single from Cal Clutterbuck, Carolina was struggling to figure out what happened.
“It’s a mystery why we come out so hesitant and afraid to play in the first period,” Muller continued.
Muller quickly pulled Ward and inserted Anton Khudobin into the net to try to stop the bleeding.
While the Hurricanes didn’t get their first shot on New York goaltender Anders Nilsson until the 10:48 mark, it was just after point that Matt Martin extended the Islanders lead to 4-0.
As Martin cleaned up another rebound opportunity that was left undefended, it was clear that Carolina wasn’t willing to put in the work to deny the Islanders of suchh opportunities.
“That’s unacceptable, I think.” Harrison said.
“The accountability within the room is coming to a point where this can’t be tolerated like this. That’s all that can be said. “It’s short and sweet. As you can see out there, there’s not too much you can say more about that first 10 minutes. ”
With 7:53 to play in the period and being outshot 13-2, the Hurricanes got their first chance to get back into the game on the power play.
It took Skinner only nine seconds to score his 27th goal of the season at 7:21 when he picked up his own rebound and scored on a backhand shot that trimmed the deficit down to three goals.
Soon after, Loktionov scored on a breakaway attempt that beat Nilsson to his stick side and gave the Hurricanes a renewed outlook that a comeback was possible.
New York led 4-2 after the first period.
Just 2:42 into the second, Semin scored the Hurricanes’ second PP goal of the game, his 22nd of the season, as Jordan Staal slid a cross-slot pass to him from behind the goal line while he waited for it to Nilsson’s right.
Semin one-timed the puck past he Islander’s goaltender and pulled the Hurricanes to within one, trailing 4-3.
As both teams continued to play on from end-to-end, Martin added his second goal of the game, the eventual game-winner, before Gerbe answered back with his 16th goal of the season.
Carolina trailed 5-4 heading into the third period and had another power play opportunity to tie the game, but were unable to do so.
Suffering another loss in which they fell too far behind and couldn’t catch up, the Hurricanes’ playoff chances continued to slip further away.
“We’ve gotta’ learn to initiate hockey games, rather than sit back and see what kinda’ game it’s gonna’ be,” Muller said.