Islanders' Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) loses control of the puck the...

Islanders' Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) loses control of the puck the puck to Carolina Hurricanes' Brady Skjei (76) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, April 2, 2023.  Credit: AP

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Islanders may yet meet the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. If so, they should have a good idea of what they must do better, specifically generating more chances and limiting their turnovers.

The opportunistic Hurricanes won, 2-1, on Sunday night at PNC Arena in a game more one-sided than the score indicated — they outchanced the Islanders 67-44 — as the Islanders lost both ends of a weekend back-to-back to conclude a three-game road trip.

“Chances for us were few and far between,” coach Lane Lambert said. “We were one shot away. Was there enough? Possibly.

“Some of the scoring chances they had, we clearly made mistakes on. Some turnovers. Sometimes it was turnovers with time. We could have done a little better job in that area.”

The Islanders (39-30-9), coming off Saturday night’s 5-0 loss to the Lightning, lead the Penguins by one point for the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. The Panthers are two points back and both pursuers have played one fewer game.

“Right now, our only focus is Tampa Bay [on Thursday night at UBS Arena] and getting into the playoffs,” Kyle Palmieri said. “I don’t think we have to think about anything past our next game. We have a couple of days off here to reset and finish the season strong and put ourselves in the best position to play in the postseason.”

Ilya Sorokin, who stopped 33 shots for the Islanders as he started back-to-back games for the third time this season, probably would want back both of the Hurricanes’ goals. He was pulled against the Lightning for the first time this season after allowing four goals on 21 shots through 31:45 but was neither the culprit nor culpable in that game, with goals coming off breakaways and deflections.

“They’re playoff teams,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said of stacking up to the Lightning and Hurricanes. “I thought we came back today and we did some good things. We had a good effort. I thought we were with them the whole way. It was a game of bounces. They got their bounce and scored on it.”

Frederik Andersen made 21 saves for the Hurricanes (49-18-9), who moved three points ahead of the Devils for first place.

The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead at 2:31 of the third period as Jordan Martinook kept the puck on a two-on-one rush against tentative defenseman Noah Dobson and beat Sorokin over his blocker from the left. Typically, Sorokin’s blocker work is a strength of his.

Dobson then took an unnecessary neutral-zone boarding penalty against Martinook at 5:04 that left Lambert visibly agitated.

Sorokin stopped the first 25 shots he faced as the Hurricanes kept the puck up ice. But Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s wrist shot trickled in to tie it at 1-1 at 9:27 of the second period after Sorokin initially got a piece of the puck.

The Islanders snapped a goal drought of 118:41 stretching to Pierre Engvall’s second-period goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 shootout win in Washington. Engvall stickhandled from the Isles’ blue line into the slot and found Pageau in the left circle for a one-timer 17:33 into the first for a 1-0 lead.

The Islanders’ power play, which has struggled without the injured Mathew Barzal, again proved problematic in going 0-for-2 with two shots. It could not muster the equalizer after the Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho was called for cross-checking Pageau at 15:24 of the third period.

“We’re having trouble getting the puck in the zone,” Lambert said. “Let’s start right there.”

More Islanders

Newsday LogoCovering LI news as it happensDigital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months