Always needing one more. - Al Bello
The New York Islanders blew three one-goal leads and wasted a return to form by their powerplay, which converted four times in the loss.
The go-ahead goal for the Hurricanes was almost predictably brutal luck, with Alexander Semin sending a high and wide shot from the half boards that deflected in off Travis Hamonic and into the net. An insurance goal by Eric Staal halfway through the period ended up taking two deflections off of Jay Harrison's point shot.
The officials were, ah, "active" on this night, calling it very close, which was to the Islanders advantage as their powerplay was on fire. At even strength it was much closer, but the Isles had some strong performances from multiple lines in that realm too.
They just couldn't get an insurance goal, couldn't hold a lead, and sure couldn't get a game-saving save. Some promising individual and line displays went wasted as the Islanders have now dropped two winnable games at home to extend this regulation losing streak to five.
Like every night, tonight ended with an empty net goal, though the Isles at least generated a little bit this time with the sixth attacker.
- Among those performances: So Matt Martin saved a goal, splaying out to make a leg save late in the second period. Really strong game from him all around.
- On that note, loved Martin with Casey Cizikas and Josh Bailey. Nice line overall, for the second straight game, kind of the new third line right now. Bailey made smart, active plays on that line, on the powerplay (he set up Frans Nielsen for the first goal) and on the penalty kill.
- Would guardedly say Kyle Okposo had one of his better games of the season, a possible sign of progress. Still treated us to another futile toe drag to the corner though.
- Particularly in the first period, it was refreshing (a relief?) to see Rick DiPietro playing the puck conservatively behind his net, retrieving and helping his defensemen without trying to do too much. Not so much as the game wore on though, as he got too comfortable clearing it on his own in the second, and very nearly got burned wandering from his net in the third, where the Hurricanes extended the zone time and ended up scoring the tying goal on the same shift.
- As for his play stopping the puck? Honestly, being as objective as possible: three of the goals were on deflections. One or two overall were definitely questionable -- shots through screens or deflections that nonetheless would've been stopped if he were down to seal off the five hole (Skinner's screenshot goal) or the far post (Staal's deflection on the fifth goal). On their own, those are excusable, but boy do the Islanders need a goalie to give them a few game-saving saves. DiPietro gave up five goals on 30 shots, and it would have been six without Martin's save, probably seven with out Andrew MacDonald. Give back two of the deflections and on the whole it was still not reassuring.
- ...and the crowd was not on DiPietro's side, with some ugly chants and some Bronx cheers on a routine smother.
- On the first Islanders goal, John Tavares had another one of those opportunistic scoop backhands. Somewhat reminiscent of his first-ever NHL goal, and of so many we've seen from him.
- Rare lazy play from Tavares in the third though, after extended pressure he was slow to pick up his man and hooked enough for a penalty ... and a diving call on Tim Brent. Not sure if Tavares worked that diving call or not with his appeal to the refs, but I doubt a lesser player gets sympathy in that situation.
- Thank you, Hurricanes PK, for leaving Matt Moulson so wide open on the door step. Hilarious and satisfying moment. Old friend Tim Wallace (who scored the Hurricanes' first goal, naturally) absolutely lost track of Moulson after his defenseman left the scene. Great play and pass by Brad Boyes to set it up.
- Unfortunately, the Isles scored on their first four powerplays but could not convert the fifth with the game winding down. Lubomir Visnovsky, who had another really fine game, was credited with the fourth goal, though that one may ultimately go to Matt Moulson.
Tavares and Hamonic Reaction
Butch things Tavares and Hamonic are mad at themselves here, but I don't know...
What more to say?
Divorced from the losing streak, this was an entertaining game and it was great to see the powerplay come back alive after a four-game bout of starvation. But the team is still too reliant on that for goals (despite some nice moments at 5-on-5 tonight) and the goalies are not buying them any margin of error.
They have to regroup, again, for Thursday night at the Garden, where motivation and focus to turn this run around better be high.