Mistakes were made.
The New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes played a basically even and scoreless first period, then traded mistakes in the second period to direct the outcome of the game. Unfortunately, it was three key Islanders mistakes to just one Hurricanes mistake, and the Isles didn't break back through until the final minute of regulation to narrow the final score to 3-2.
The red and black southerners continue to have the Isles' number. The Isles continue to reside in the Metropolitan Division basement.
The Isles had just impressively killed a Hurricanes power play, even generating some scoring opportunities of their own, when Andrew MacDonald made a mistake at 5-on-5 that became the first goal of the game.
MacDonald actually made two mistakes on the play: First, he dragged his feet to try to milk an icing out of the slow-arriving puck, which the linesman noted and promptly used as cause to waive it off. Second, he was too soft with the puck, which is why he lost it (even if it bounced along the endboards ice), allowing Patrick Dwyer to serve it up on a tee for Manny Malhotra.
Thankfully, John Tavares and Thomas Vanek exist.
Within a minute of the AMac gaffe, Tavares took an intercepted pass from the blueline into the Carolina slot, fed Vanek, who gratuitously (as he is wont to do) fed it back, making Tavares have to do some acrobatics to pot the equalizer.
Tavares didn't give up on play, clearly knowing that Vanek loves making that extra pass. Loves it.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) January 5, 2014
Ah, but then the Isles played a "vacate the zone" drill. Not thankfully, Vanek was one of the guilty parties.
First MacDonald and the Thomases -- Thomas Hickey and particularly Vanek -- crossed signals, with MacDonald drifting to the boards to cover the pass (and failing), while Vanek stood at the blueline complaining about an apparent offside, allowing Jordan Staal to walk in alone on Nabokov. 2-1 Carolina.
Then Calvin de Haan's backhand scoop dump-in appeared to bounce off the linesman and go the other way just as the Isles were changing, leaving Jeff Skinner to break in all alone on the left wing. His good far-post shot was stopped by Nabokov, but Brett Sutter arrived to shovel the rebound to the opposite post and past Nabokov.
Instead of banking the rare bonus of scoring quickly after the opponent took the lead, the Isles gave it back and then some in a two-fer. The Hurricanes' two goals were 57 seconds apart, naturally.
After the Isles ended their "abandon the zone!" drill, they overcompensated for a few minutes and turned defensive zone coverage into a jump-on-the-grenade drill with all hands participating. It was no prettier, and only mildly (and luckily?) more effective.
Anyway, with under six minutes left in the second period, that was about it. The Hurricanes did well enough to kill the game from there forward, allowing some shots but never letting the Isles get close enough to threaten a comeback until the final minute.
With 24 seconds remaining, during an Isles power play, Vanek deflected a MacDonald shot from the point past Anton Khudobin to make it 3-2. Khudobin had been mostly excellent and didn't have much of a chance on the deflection. Just in case, he would make what was ultimately an unnecessary but dramatic glove save at the buzzer -- unnecessary because the play was being whistled for an Islanders hand-pass, but impressive because barring that whistle he would have saved the game with that stop.
Tough to take much from this game other than: Dumb mistakes will kill you. The Isles actually outshot the Canes 40-30, mostly via their third-period (16-9) comeback attempts.
The Isles, of course, long ago squandered their margin of error for mistakes like tonight. So...
Closed-door meeting going on for #Isles now. Garth Snow just came out of the locker room too— Matt Saidman (@MattSaidman) January 5, 2014
I don't know what could be said, what strategy nor "adjustments" could be made (fire AMac in the Sun for a few games?), other than: "HEY, DON'T DO THAT."
Anyway, Dallas is up next on Monday.
- Preview: New York Islanders vs. Carolina Hurricanes
- A Look Into a Night of Islanders Shift Management
- [Gameday Bits] The Ballad of Bobby Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Also, the Islanders.
- That Time You Fired New York Islanders Coach Jack Capuano
- [Bits] Kyle is a real American, fights for the rights of every man