The Islanders’ penalty kill was the unsung hero of their resounding win over the Rangers Thursday, but special teams was their undoing Saturday in a 4-2 loss to Carolina.
The Islanders power play struggled once again, allowing the 9th-place Hurricanes to make up ground in the Eastern Conference standings and pull themselves one point within the 8th place Rangers.
Entering Saturday night’s contest with only one man-up goal over the last seven games, the unit faltered on all four opportunities last night.
The biggest miss came with the Islanders down 3-2 with 1:32 to play. Canes defenseman Jamie McBain sailed one over the glass for a delay of game penalty but the Islanders couldn’t capitalize.
Matt Martin had a prime opportunity, but the man-advantage was nullified when a bouncing puck hopped over defenseman Mark Katic’s stick near the blue line. Katic tried to keep it in zone, but Eric Staal pounced and darted in to add an empty-netter with less than 48 seconds remaining.
“I knew I could bat it down in the corner, but at the last second it took a hop. On a 6-on-4 you’ve just got to take chances, that’s what you do” Katic said. “I really wanted to keep that in. I’m actually pretty mad about that.”
The Islanders are now 1-for-26 on the power-play over the last eight games.
“I know right now I feel more comfortable on the 5-on-5 than on the power play,” PA Parenteau said. “We’re generating way more 5-on-5, which is not normal.”
Trailing the Islanders 2-1, the Hurricanes posted up in front for two deflection goals in the third.
Joe Corvo got a piece of Tim Gleason’s bomb for the equalizer at 3:02 and picked up a secondary assist on Erik Cole’s redirection 3:02 minutes later for a 3-2 Carolina lead.
“They came on in the third and we couldn’t contain them down low,” coach Jack Capuano said.
Corvo finished the game with one goal and two assists. He picked up his first helper on the game’s first goal, backhanding a lead pass to Jussi Jokinen in front for a 1-0 Canes lead at 4:47.
Four minutes later Jesse Joensuu tied the game at 1 with his wrist shot from the right circle.
With the two teams knotted at 1 in the second period, John Tavares redirected Matt Moulson’s shot for his 28th goal of the season and a 2-1 Isles lead at 7:05.
“Whether we’re playing a team that’s battling for a playoff spot, in the playoffs or a team that didn’t make it, we’ve got to make sure find ways to play the full 60 minutes,” Tavares said.
Notes and Quotes: Frans Nielsen missed the game with concussion-like symptoms. Nielsen is day-to-day after suffering a head injury from Marian Gaborik’s first period hit Thursday. With the 26 year-old center out, winger Blake Comeau moved to the middle for the first time since junior hockey.