The New York Islanders entered Game 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes needing a win to salvage a 1-1 road split. Frankly, they played well enough to earn the split. But Carolina got some breaks, both from the officials and from the Hockey Gods, and they took advantage.
Ilya Sorokin and Antti Raanta squared off again, and neither was all that great. The Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead, the second goal a total fluke, but the Islanders clawed back and took a 3-2 lead. Carolina tied it up quickly, and the game went to overtime. Jesper Fast got the game-winner after both a ref and linesman declined to call a penalty on Jordan Martinook for high-sticking Scott Mayfield right in front of them, which allowed the Canes to set up on an odd-man rush.
Carolina ended the game with six power plays, while the Islanders had none. And yet Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour still found a way to whine about the refs in the post-game because they missed J-G Pageau slashing Teuvo Teravainen. I cannot stand the Hurricanes, man.
The Islanders are heading back to UBS Arena for its first-ever playoff game, but they’re down 0-2.
The Islanders started in their own zone as is typical against the Hurricanes, but nothing looked particularly dangerous. If anything, the first scary chance belonged to Casey Cizikas taking a stretch feed from Ryan Pulock on a breakaway and getting stopped five-hole by Raanta. But then, with the Islanders pinned in their own zone following a Samuel Bolduc turnover, Jaccob Slavin from the half-wall found Paul Stastny down low uncovered for a tap-in. 1-0 Hurricanes early, again.
Though they were once again playing from behind early on, the Islanders responded decently well—the Engvall-Nelson-Palmieri line had a great chance that just wouldn’t go, partially due to some clutching and grabbing by Carolina.
That momentum was slowed when Cizikas was assessed a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking Canes’ Sebastian Aho. The Isles killed off the first minute and a half until J-G Pageau drew a tripping call against Teuvo Teravainen to create four minutes of 4-on-4 before 0:34 more of a Carolina power play.
With that killed off, the Islanders’ second line went back to work; Brock Nelson, zipping through the slot on the rush, took a feed from Pierre Engvall in the corner. Raanta stopped Nelson’s one-time chance and left Nelson a rebound, but in a rush, he flung it over the net.
The end of the period was a furious flurry of shots and fists. Due to a failed clear, the Hurricanes had a 3-on-1 that was shut down by a blocked shot. On his way back to the zone, Matt Martin nailed Jordan Staal about a half-second after Staal released the puck. Martin then knelt on him while everybody else played hockey, with the final ten seconds featuring multiple attempts that could have been goals against Sorokin. Once the horn sounded, the battle ensued. Staal was hunched over in pain.
Absolutely wild last 20 seconds to end the period pic.twitter.com/wXqpI0r5h6— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) April 19, 2023
Staal was back on the bench for the second period, which the Islanders started on the kill. Carolina wasn’t too threatening, and Pageau and Bo Horvat had a brief 2-on-1. Pageau held onto the puck the whole time but found some open space for a good shot on Raanta. Martin’s penalty expired.
Unable to stay out of the box, the Islanders went right back on the kill after Bolduc took the game’s second double-minor for high-sticking, originally assessed to Palmieri before the refs reviewed it. The Islanders shaded Brent Burns, who [ahem] burned them last game on the power play; he didn’t get a chance until what turned out to be a two-minute shift got broken up by a misplay, although Cizikas came up with a huge block on Burns’ try.
The Islanders nearly killed off the whole double-minor, until Sebastian Aho—the Islanders’ Sebastian Aho—from out high, swatted at Stefan Noesen’s cross-corner dump, and Sorokin never saw the fluttering puck. A real “you’re kidding me, right?” moment. It was a fluky goal for a team you don’t want to give anything free to, and one that really could have deflated the Islanders. Hell, it deflated me.
But they responded quickly. Palmieri retrieved a dump-in from Noah Dobson and quickly circled around the net for a backhand try that fooled Raanta. Engvall’s skate may have clicked with Raanta, and the refs gave Canes’ coach Rod Brind’Amour quite a while to decide whether he wanted to challenge; he chose not to.
Juiced up, the Islanders continued to push through the end of the period, keeping the puck mostly in Carolina’s zone if not really getting enough shots through. Carolina’s stifling defense has a way of doing that. However, with just about twenty seconds left in the period, the Islanders tied the game at 2-2. A slow play through the neutral zone came to Pelech with Mathew Barzal right in front of him, so Pelech dished it up to Barzal. The Islanders’ star found some space between the defensemen and snapped the puck through Raanta.
The first shifts of the period were hurried, with everyone skating on their normal lines, but then coach Lane Lambert spent about five minutes of game time moving Barzal away from the top line, probably to get him away from Staal.
Coming out of the first commercial break, everyone was back on their own line, and the Islanders took the lead, courtesy of who else but Brock Nelson. His line started a rush up the ice, Nelson and Engvall on a 2-on-1. Wisely, he held onto the shot and rifled it over Raanta’s glove in classic Nelson goal fashion to give the Islanders their first lead of the series.
The lead was short-lived, though—only 3:01. The fourth line iced the puck, and Jaccob Slavin, all alone along the goal line after the ensuing faceoff, sniped the puck short-side off Sorokin’s head. Tied at 3-3.
Now discombobulated, the Islanders were running around their own zone. Coming out of the last commercial break, Pulock took a tripping penalty. It was hairy to be sure, but the Islanders managed to kill it off. The Islanders pushed a bit after the kill, but neither team wanted to push the envelope too much, and the game went to overtime.
Early on, Palmieri found some space in the slot off the rush, but a Hurricanes defenseman got a stick on it to deflect it away at the last second.
Overtime did not last very long. Jordan Martinook blatantly high-sticked Scott Mayfield right in front of both a linesman and a referee with no call, and just seconds later, Staal turned a puck around for Jesper Fast. Mayfield spent time yelling at the refs rather than getting off or staying in position, Sorokin didn’t come out to challenge it, and Fast scored.
Mayfield takes a high stick to the face right before Fast’s goal pic.twitter.com/wckyzNQQzQ— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) April 20, 2023
Pretty big missed call here: Martinook high sticks Mayfield, but there's no call. This happened just before the game-winner. pic.twitter.com/XeFHQbKCfn— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 20, 2023
Not the easiest to see in the live view, but here it is relative to the game-winner.— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 20, 2023
Always going to be human error, but that's quite an error when the stakes are super high. Never want it to be this influential on a game result. pic.twitter.com/rHBbiQ3WVL
Notes and Thoughts
- Honestly, the Islanders played well. They didn’t get the breaks. That’s it. I’m too pissed off to think about anything else other than...
- I hate Carolina, going back to 2019. They just keep beating the Islanders, no matter what else happens. They control play for long stretches and make it so difficult for a team like the Islanders, not especially gifted offensively, to put goals on the board or even generate consistent offense. And even when the Islanders are the better team, as they were for most of the night tonight, Carolina gets the breaks.
- It was encouraging the way they played against Carolina, and going back home, the Islanders will get the matchups they want. But man, it’s hard as a fan not to feel like that was a dagger.
The officials, different from the last game, had a brutal game. I am not one to blame the officials for a loss, but they were directly involved in tonight’s result, both by act and by omission. They always say they don’t want to have an impact on the game, but then they blow it like they did tonight, and they have an impact on the game.
They missed the high stick on Aho until the play was whistled dead a good 15 seconds later. They missed a high stick entirely that Martin took, which is possibly a factor in Martin giving Staal a spinal rearrangement, leading to the scrum at the end of the first. Out of that, only Martin got a penalty, somehow. That was just the first period.
Carolina ended up with six (6!) power plays to the Islanders’ zero (0!), including two (2!) double-minors, and the officiating atrocity culminated in the utter dereliction of their duty on the missed high stick on Mayfield, not to mention a missed too many men call. Francis Charron, eat shit.
You too, Rod Brind’Amour. I’m sorry Teuvo Teravainen is out for the series, but for the love of god, you just won an overtime game you probably didn’t deserve and got six power plays without having to kill a penalty. You have a lot of gall to whine in the post-game about bad officiating.
Game 3 is back on Long Island, UBS Arena’s first-ever playoff game. The Islanders, now in an 0-2 hole, will need to win four of the five remaining games in the series to advance, and Game 3 is basically a must-win. Let’s get loud.