With nothing else to play for other than pride — which won’t do much to fuel a team playing a jam-packed, fatigue-inducing schedule to end the season — the New York Islanders’ losing streak extended to five games on Sunday following a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at UBS Arena.
They conceded the final three goals of the game, all in the third period, after clawing back to erase a two-goal deficit in what was the second game of a back-to-back and their fourth game in six nights. In the month of April, they’ve played 13 games in 24 days and 10 in the last 17.
The hectic schedule certainly appears to have taken its toll now, as the Islanders have lost seven of their last nine games.
Despite New York coming out with more jump, they quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole within the game’s first eight minutes.
A bad turnover by Noah Dobson just a few feet in front of Semyon Varlamov’s goal came right to Derek Stepan, who immediately snapped a wrister under the New York goaltender on Carolina’s first shot of the afternoon just 2:25 in.
Less than six minutes later with the Hurricanes on the power play, Seth Jarvis got the puck alone at Varlamov’s crease, deked from his forehand to his backhand, and popped a chance into the roof of the net to double the Islanders’ deficit.
The hosts finally got one with 1:35 left in the frame when a shot from Casey Cizikas squirted through Carolina goalie Antti Raanta and slid just past the right post. Matt Martin managed to get to it and send a centering pass toward the front where Ross Johnston was waiting, redirecting the feed into the net for his second goal of the season.
New York tied it up on the power play with 4:33 to go in the second period when Ryan Pulock snapped a wrister past Hurricanes backup goalie Pyotr Kochetkov, who replaced Raanta midway through the period after tweaking his lower body on an awkward save.
Just 5:30 into the final frame, though, the Hurricanes took the lead following another defensive lapse that allowed Max Domi to get in front of Varlamov all alone before snapping a one-timer home.
Jesper Fast and Brendan Smith added empty-netters within the last 2:07 of regulation to ice it, ensuring New York’s losing skid continues. The Islanders couldn’t provide any help to their crosstown rivals, the Rangers, either, as Carolina extended its lead atop the Metropolitan Division to four points (112 to the Rangers’ 108) with just three games left to play.