The little mistakes proved fatal as the Isles capitalized on nearly every one of them while the Canes were left scrambling and trying to force too many plays.
It was the kind of game that the Islanders wanted to play, and Carolina fell right into it.
“Give them credit,” said captain Jordan Staal. “I thought they did a good job of keeping their game simple and getting pucks out when they needed to and not letting us sustain any pressure and really just making us make mistakes. That’s kind of our game and our style and what we want to do and they did it to us. I think we were a little sloppy with the puck a few times, a couple of miscues and they made us pay.”
The misplays mostly took place in the defensive zone and came from subtle little miscues, like a bouncing puck or a missed assignment off a faceoff. But the worst part was that the Canes kept making those blunders just after they crawled back into the game.
Twice they tied the score up just to give it right back to New York.
The Islanders capitalized on those chances and once Carolina got behind, they just lost their composure.
“We knew the way they were going to play,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “We talked about it. I thought we fought back, but you can’t just give up a goal once we finally get back in and tie it. We were having two or three turnovers in the neutral zone trying to make something happen when we just didn’t need to. There was nothing there. They made us pay for it.”
While Martin Necas and his line continued to stay hot — Necas’ give-and-go goal with Brady Skjei tied the game up at 1-1 — the rest of the Hurricanes’ forward lines are still floundering to consistently produce.
The Canes have just nine even-strength goals from the rest of their nine forwards combined and Sebastian Aho has three of those.
They need a lot more from the rest of the lineup if they want to be competitive.
“All four [lines] have got to get going,” Staal said. “We can’t have any passengers. My line obviously has to find ways to create more. We’ve been getting better, but there’s still more out there. For sure for myself. You can’t have any passengers if you want to win in this league and I thought tonight there was a few too many.”
The Canes also failed to capitalize on really their one true power play opportunity.
They ended up with a 5-on-3 power play for 1:23 late in the second period, trailing 3-2, and those are the make or break moments of games.
The Hurricanes were doing everything right, with multiple bombs being ripped from the point and even a couple of strikes on the iron, but the Canes just couldn’t strike gold.
Even though the results weren’t there, Brind’Amour was still satisfied with the process.
“I’ll take that all day,” Brind’Amour said. “We had Brent Burns with two or three right down the pipe, we hit the post. It’s probably a different game if we pump one in there, but their goalie played really well. I give him a lot of credit. He was excellent, but really their team game. They played probably their best game, in the four years I’ve been going against them, by far the best game they’ve played.”
Maybe one positive that can be taken from the game was that Burns finally found the back of the net, with his long range shot finding it’s way through a crowd of Islanders and ultimately Ilya Sorokin.
The Canes have needed him to start coming into form and if he can get that ball rolling, it will go a long way for them.
Luckily for the Hurricanes, they don’t have to stew on this game long as they head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers Saturday night.