RALEIGH, N.C. – The regular season continued to slide towards its conclusion for the Carolina Hurricanes as they suffered a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders at PNC Arena on Thursday.
Goals from Brock Nelson, Scott Mayfield, and Andrew Ladd provided the Islanders the offense they needed to successfully defend in front of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who earned his fourth straight win and second shutout of the season.
He made 29 saves in the process of recording his 41st career shutout.
After posting a 9-0-4 record that put Carolina in a position to contend for a wildcard playoff spot, a recent four-game slide instead ensured that the team would miss the playoffs for an eighth straight season.
Even so, another shutout loss in front of the team’s fans – an announced crowd of 9,769 – wasn’t how associate captain Jordan Staal wanted his team to respond to three previous shortfalls.
Still fighting for a playoff spot, the Islanders’ energy and tenacity highlighted how little Carolina’s effort was relative to how it had played since the beginning of March.
“There wasn’t much there,” Staal said.
“Hopefully we got that out of our system and we don’t do that again and show up to play. Pretty much everyone through the lineup, if not everyone, could have had a lot more and show a little more pride than we did tonight.”
After getting behind 2-0 after the first five minutes of play, the Hurricanes couldn’t break through, nor create the scoring opportunities they needed to catch up.
They had done it before, but couldn’t or wouldn’t on this night as New York claimed its only win in the two teams’ five meetings this season.
If Halak didn’t make the stop, the Islanders defense in front of him denied the other shot attempts that came his way.
Though outshooting New York 29-23, Carolina also had 21 shots blocked, in addition to missing on 11 more attempts.
“I thought we were flat and stayed flat,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said.
“It was a disappointing start to the game. I didn’t think we had the intensity to execute at a high level. I don’t think you can play at this level and not have the NHL intensity and not have NHL execution.”
Nelson opened the game’s scoring 87 seconds in after swiping at a loose puck that had ricocheted behind Hurricanes netminder Eddie Lack during a scramble for it around his crease.
Just over three minutes later, Mayfield extended the Islanders’ lead to two when he beat Lack as he stood untouched at the top of the crease.
Carolina knew it had to make up a lot of ground, still trailing 2-0 after one period.
A former Hurricane, Ladd dropped the hammer down and extended the Islanders lead further when he snapped a shot past Lack’s blocker at the 39-second mark of the second period.
With Carolina’s Victor Rask still serving the tail end of a four-minute high-sticking double-minor penalty, Ladd’s 22nd goal of the season was tallied on the power play.
Carolina had three power play opportunities of its own, but was denied on all three.
The Hurricanes couldn’t produce on their home ice – where they’ve compiled a 23-12-5 mark – for the second time in less than a week, following a 3-0 shutout loss to Dallas last Saturday.
“It wasn’t us and not what our identity is,” Staal concluded.
“It’s a game we won’t take anything from and hopefully be ready to work next game, We’re not doin’ that again – just showin’ some pride, ready to work, ready to skate. The game’s too fast to go half way and it showed out there tonight. There was just a little bit of effort, but you need everything if you’re gonna wanna play at any kind of level. You can tell tonight was a half effort.”
“That’s good to hear – I’m glad to hear that,” Peters said when told of Staal’s comments.
“It’s hard to watch, right? I agree with him though. But now, gotta back that up.”
With two more games remaining – at home against St. Louis on Saturday and at Philadelphia on Sunday – Peters’ goal, similar to Staal’s, is for the Hurricanes to play according to who they are.
“I would suggest that we go back to work and find our identity again and share the workload to finish this off properly.”