NEW YORK – The Islanders first game back in Brooklyn was one to forget on Monday night.
With an impending blizzard heading towards the area, the Islanders were rocked by a Hurricane before hand in an 8-4 loss to Carolina. A roughly 10 minute span in the second period saw the Hurricanes score four goals to pull ahead of the Islanders, who had been leading 3-2 early in the period.
The Hurricanes added two more goals in the third period, which included Jaccob Slavin recording his first career hat trick, and ended the Islanders 11 game home point streak in embarrassing fashion.
“We have to better,” Islanders interim head coach Doug Weight said. “None of us were good enough tonight… Whether it was fatigue or not – you have to simplify your game and we didn’t do that. We were awful.”
The Islanders have had some rough losses in recent weeks, but considering where the Hurricanes sit in the standings Monday’s result was a tough one to swallow. Even tougher was the performance the Islanders received from both goaltenders in the loss. JF Berube allowed four goals in 26:02 of work before being pulled in the second period. Thomas Greiss didn’t fair much better, surrendering a goal on the first shot he faced and also allowing four goals before the night was over.
“It really stings right now because I know I’m a lot better than this,” Berube said. “It’s a really tough situation, but I’m not going to give up. I know people believe in me, just have to find a way.”
The Islanders had played a strong first period, outshooting the Hurricanes 15-9 and controlling the pace of the play for most of the first 20 minutes. New York even struck first with Ryan Strome tallying his 13th goal of the season off a fluky goal at 9:11.
However, two goals in a 26 second span in the first period was the start of what would become a forgettable night. Slavin scored his first goal of the night quickly followed by Joakin Nordstrom’s fourth goal of the season.
Stephen Gionta was able to tie the game at two late in the second period and Calvin de Haan gave the Islanders back the briefly 2:43 into the second period, but Justin Faulk tied the game at 6:51 and the Hurricanes began their assault.
Jeff Skinner scored his first of two goals on Monday to give Carolina their second lead of the night – and forced the Islanders to make a goaltending change – and 56 seconds later Faulk scored his second goal of the night. Slavin scored after forcing Brock Nelson to make an offensive zone turnover while the Islanders were on the power play to make it a 6-3 game.
Josh Ho-Sang provided a small ray of hope when he scored a tap-in goal off a pass from Anthony Beauvillier to cut the Islanders deficit down to two, but Jeff Skinner scored again 3:43 into the third for Carolina. Slavin completed the hat trick tallying his third goal at 10:57.
“We have to play a lot of better,” John Tavares said. “They were better in a lot of area. Their speed, we were the opposite. We just weren’t very sharp. Certainly disappointing at this point in the season.
He added: “We’re playing for our lives. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Islanders returned to Barclays Center on Monday night following a rather successful road trip. The Islanders went 5-3-1 on their franchise record nine-game trip, but weren’t using the lengthy time away from home as an excuse for their performance against Carolina.
“We’re not going to use that at all,” Travis Hamonic said referring to the Islanders bizarre schedule. “We’re in a back-to-back so we have to do better.”
The loss put a big emphasis on Tuesday’s rematch with the Hurricanes in Raleigh. The Islanders are one point out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and need a win – as well as a Toronto loss – to jump back into a playoff spot. Tampa Bay is also even with the Islanders at 75 points.
“We just made yet again tomorrow the biggest game of the year,” Weight said. “For all intensive purposes this is going to dictate a lot in what’s going to happen in the next month. We’ve got to win and we’re not going to win if we’re not better.”