Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
Goals by Eric Staal and Brent Sutter, 57 seconds apart from each other, helped the Carolina Hurricanes prevail 3-2 over the Islanders. It was the 11th time in their last 14 meetings at Nassau Coliseum that the Hurricanes have beaten the Islanders.
“We always feel like we play pretty well against [the Hurricanes], but we always come out with a loss” Matt Martin said. “I think we just had the mental lapses that end up costing us. And we gotta make sure anytime they score a goal against us it’s hard. It’s not an easy goal.
“We gave them a few gifts tonight and obviously that was the difference.”
The new Metropolitan division rivals started the game with a spirited first period, and it wasn’t until the second that either side found the back of the net.
Andrew MacDonald made a poor turnover behind the his own goal, which allowed Patrick Dwyer to feed Manny Malhotra in the slot and give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. The Islanders responded 44 seconds later after Carolina made a turnover in their own end.
John Tavares slipped the puck past Anton Khudobin to even the game at one, and extend his point streak to nine games.
But two defensive miscues in the span of a minute allowed Carolina to jump back in the drivers seat. Eric Staal was left all alone in the slot at 13:21 of the second period and put the Hurricanes up 2-1. Brent Sutter extended the Hurricane lead to two guys by burying a rebound past Evgeni Nabokov.
Vanek found the back of the net in the final minute, with the Islanders on a late game power play, but they could not find the tying goal. The loss snapped the team’s three game winning streak.
While the team’s top line managed to get their names on the score sheet, they also made some key mistakes in the game. Vanek, Tavares and Kyle Okposo were on the for all three Hurricane goals.
A fact that did not sit well with Islander Head Coach Jack Capuano.
“They weren’t very good without the puck and they know that,” Capuano said after the loss. “As I addressed after the game…they made some pretty crucial mistakes without the puck tonight and gave them quite a few chances. I wouldn’t be shocked if 50 or 60 percent of their chances came against that line.”
For his part, Vanek did acknowledge his mistake on the Hurricanes second goal. He thought the play was going to be whistled offsides when Carolina was entering the offensive zone.
“I read it wrong,” he said. “I thought it was offsides by five feet and I should have just played the game instead of thinking it should have been blown down. Again, I let him walk in and he scored. That’s my fault.”
It was a frustrating night for the Islanders, who prior to Saturday had won their last three games against high quality opponents. Capuano felt that not all of his players were on top of their game Saturday night.
“That’s the disappoint thing for me tonight is that we didn’t have all 20 guys going,” Capuano said. “We had some guys going, but we can’t have nights like that. We’re the type of team that everybody has to go.”