The Carolina Hurricanes' Jon Matsumoto fires the puck past goaltender...

The Carolina Hurricanes' Jon Matsumoto fires the puck past goaltender Rick DiPietro during the first period in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wednesday. (Nov. 3, 2010) Credit: MCT

RALEIGH, N.C. - The Islanders have done more than just drop five straight games. They have done more than deliver two of the season's worst performances in a mere four days. The team has unraveled to a point so far removed from their trademark gritty, hard-working style that it is hard to imagine they were vying for the top of the Eastern Conference standings only a few weeks ago.

Looking to rebound from Saturday's demoralizing dud - a 6-1 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia - the Islanders sunk even lower last night with a listless 7-2 loss to Carolina marked by defensive breakdowns and, once again, a poor start.

"We're extremely disappointed. We wanted to come out with a better effort after the loss in Philly," defenseman Mike Mottau said. "We didn't put our best effort out there tonight and it showed on the scoreboard."

For the fifth straight game the Islanders gave up the first goal; last night it was Joe Corvo striking first for Carolina.

Pressured on the forecheck by Chad LaRose behind the net, goaltender Rick DiPietro scrambled back to the net and collided with John Tavares, allowing Corvo's point shot to get through at 10:12.

Corvo's goal was the first for the Hurricanes at RBC Center this season; the team was shut out at home the previous two games.

Carolina tallied twice more in the first. Jon Matsumoto tapped in a nice feed from Sergei Samsonov for his first NHL goal at 15:48 and Samsonov collected another assist when captain Eric Staal's one-timer beat DiPietro for a 3-0 Hurricanes lead at 18:51.

"That's certainly not the way we want to start against a team struggling to score at home," coach Scott Gordon said. "Right now our play away from the puck - all up and down the ice - is hurting us."

The Islanders offered no response in the second period, giving up another pair of goals to fall behind 5-0.

The first of the two goals scored in the middle frame was a true back-breaker. DiPietro went to cover up a puck left in the crease, but it somehow squirted through his reach and was left for Brandon Sutter to bury at the left post at 9:40.

Sutter collected an assist on center Jiri Tlusty's goal less than a minute later. Although Sutter made contact with DiPietro before the goal, nothing was called and Carolina took a 5-0 lead.

"Things aren't going great," DiPietro said. "You get in a slide like this and it's tough to get over it."

Michael Grabner and P.A. Parenteau scored for the Islanders in the third period, but it was much too little too late.

With the second of back-to-back road games tonight against Ottawa, the Islanders must search for a way to snap their troubling and growing slump.

"Attitude is one thing," Mark Eaton said. "We have to know we can be better. We all know what we need to do to be successful; it's just a question of doing it for 60 minutes a night."

Notes & quotes: C Rob Schremp made his regular-season debut after missing the first 11 games with a back injury. Grabner returned to the lineup after missing three games.

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