RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes came up short in a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
After both teams traveled through adverse weather conditions to arrive in Raleigh after each playing a road game the night before, it was the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders (38-19-1) who had the better jump from the opening faceoff.
Carolina (20-29-7) couldn’t carry the momentum over from a 6-3 win at Ottawa on Monday.
Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters described his team’s slow start as the first he’s seen in a long time.
“They did a good job,” Peters said of the Islanders’ play.
“I didn’t think they gave up a lot of quality. They protected the house – did a good job of collapsing. I didn’t think we had a lot of Grade-A’s. I didn’t think we executed. We had some rushes – we had a 3-on-2 and a 4-on-2 that didn’t materialize into anything. Those hurt ya’.”
While Jiri Tlusty scored his 13th goal of the season and Anton Khudobin made 25 saves in the loss, New York’s offense showed its depth as four different scorers posted goals throughout the game.
Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Michael Grabner and John Tavares spread out the Islanders’ scoring over all three periods, while goaltender Chad Johnson made 37 saves to earn his second win against Carolina this season, and extended his career record against the Hurricanes to 4-0.
Lee scored his 19th of the season with 2:54 to play in the first period on the power play and gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead as the visitors outshot Carolina 14-7.
He cleaned up a rebound with a backhander that slid between Khudobin’s pads after winning the battle for the puck in the low slot with Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason.
“They started the game right – they came at us,” Tlusty said.
“We wanted to have a better start. I think second half of the game we were better. Unfortunately, we didn’t score more than them. The start of the game was kind of slow for us.”
Nelson’s goal was the only one scored in the second period and extended the Islanders lead to 2-0 following the opening 40 minutes of play.
Grabner’s goal came at 7:09 of the third as he fended off Gleason to beat Khudobin with a snap shot low past his trapper and gave New York a comfortable three-goal cushion.
Though Carolina had two power plays, late in the first and early in the third, both opportunities went scoreless.
Tlusty scored just over four minutes later on a well executed set up from linemates Jordan and Eric Staal, redirecting the puck between Johnson’s pads to end the keeper’s shutout bid.
Following Tlusty’s goal, the Hurricanes maintained their offensive pressure against the Islanders.
With 5:53 to play, Nathan Gerbe looked to have pulled Carolina to within one goal, but the play was ruled as a high-stick shot attempt.
As a non-reviewable play, the official’s still talked it over before reaffirming that the washout of the goal was accurate.
“I looked at it and it was a high stick,” Peters said.
“They got the call right.”
Tavares finalized the game’s scoring his 28th goal of the season, launching a rink-length dump on the empty net following a save by Johnson.
While suffering the loss, and after his team eventually outchanced the Islanders by putting 38 shots on goal to their 30, Peters indicated that he wasn’t overly concerned with the outcome.
“Not a whole bunch of concern,” he said.
“There are some guys that probably needed to play better, that didn’t. Every night you learn a little bit about your group and about your team. We gave on up on the power play and lost the specialty teams battle. It would have been nice if the power play could have scored.”
In suffering its second loss at home in four games, Carolina will now prepare to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.
Notes: Johnson fended off Carolina’s key offensive threats including Jeff Skinner who had five shots on goal, as well as Eric Staal, Elias Lindholm, and Justin Faulk who each put four shots towards him…New York outhit Carolina 37-33 while playing more aggressively on defense with 15 takeaways and 23 blocked shots compared to five and 15 respectively for the Hurricanes…Carolina’s work line of Patrick Dwyer- Jay McClement- Brad Malone didn’t provide the energy it has in recent games, only putting a combined four shots on goal.