Islanders fall to Carolina; Lubomir Visnovsky injured
The lesson should have been learned. But the Islanders didn't take to heart that more shots means more chances and more goals, and it cost them Saturday night.
After a scoreless first period that included two power plays in the first 10 minutes but only seven shots on Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward, the Islanders lost Lubomir Visnovsky to a concussion and lost their footing.
A late rally made the final score a respectable 4-3 loss, but there was nothing good to say about the Isles' efficiency in the first two periods, when they had only 13 shots and trailed 3-1.
"We didn't have much urgency at all," said Andrew MacDonald, who logged 30:25 of ice time with Visnovsky out. "We know how we have to play and it seemed like we were standing still a lot of the time."
After two 3-2 losses last weekend in Chicago and Nashville in which the Islanders had a combined 35 shots on goal, there was plenty of video for Jack Capuano and his staff to show the team on how not to play.
With 84 shots in the next two games, a shootout loss to the Sabres and a one-goal win over the Oilers, there were examples of the right way to go about their business. But it didn't take.
The Hurricanes barreled toward Evgeni Nabokov to take a 3-0 lead in the second period, and Matt Moulson's late power-play goal cut it to 3-1 after two.
But Capuano's decision to dress Matt Carkner over Matt Donovan backfired once Visnovsky headed to the dressing room late in the first, needing support from the Islanders' staff after taking an inadvertent shoulder to the head behind his own net.
Carkner had to play more than usual and was on the ice for three of the Hurricanes' four goals, including Jiri Tlusty's second of the night off a two-on-one feed from Alex Semin with 8:54 to play. That made it 4-1 and came off a failed pinch attempt by Carkner.
Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo scored in the final 6:41 as the Isles finally jammed the space in front of Ward, but they got no closer.
"You can't take anything for granted in this league," said Moulson, who had two assists to go with the goal. "You generate chances and shots one game, you've got to make it happen the next game."
John Tavares was particularly frustrated after the loss. "It's a mind-set, a focus, a competitiveness to not get outworked out there," he said. "We have to get back to doing some of those things and it's got to be every day that we do them."
Visnovsky will be evaluated again Sunday. If he needs a stay on injured reserve, the Islanders likely will sign veteran defenseman Radek Martinek, who has been skating with the team during the past week but does not have a contract.
"To lose a guy that logs 20-plus minutes, that hurts you," Capuano said. "You've got five defensemen going up against a pretty quick team."
Had the Isles not made a few extra passes in the first period, things might have been different.
Another lesson to learn. At the very least, the Islanders sounded like a team tired of having to learn by failing.