The New York Islanders led 2-0 midway through their fifth game in seven days, but were unable to hold on, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday at Nassau Coliseum. The loss spoiled the season debut of goaltender Kevin Poulin, who was called up from AHL Bridgeport Saturday and made 24 saves on 27 shots.
With the score tied 2-2 midway through the third period, Carolina’s Bobby Sanguinetti netted his first career goal to put the Hurricanes on top. Patrick Dwyer led an odd-man rush across the Islanders blue line and found Sanguinetti coming down the middle. The defenseman fired over Poulin’s glove for the game winner at 10:17.
Following the game, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano addressed what needed improvement.
“The team that gets pucks in and works the other team’s defense usually has a good chance of winning,” Capuano said. “I saw our defense turn way too much tonight. I saw way too many giveaways by our forwards and our D and you’re not going to be successful playing like that.”
The Islanders were unable to find the equalizer as time wound down, and Alexander Semin scored on an empty net with 30 seconds remaining to give Carolina the 4-2 final.
The Hurricanes out-shot the Islanders 14-5 in the first period, but the home team managed to build a 2-0 lead. Matt Moulson’s 10th goal of the season put the Islanders up 1-0 at 4:38. Brad Boyes darted past a defenseman along the sidewall and dropped a pass to the winger, who one-timed the puck off Carolina goaltender Cam Ward and in. John Tavares earned the secondary assist on the play.
Tavares scored later in the period to double the Islanders lead. Moulson chipped the puck off the boards to spring Tavares on a 2-on-1 rush with Boyes. Tavares skated in and roofed one from the left circle. The goal was Tavares’ 13th of the season, tying him for the NHL lead.
“I created the 2-on-1 and I was about to pass it, but the puck rolled up on me,” Tavares said. “That changed my approach and Ward was sitting a little deep in his net fortunately. I’m just lucky I was able to pick a corner.”
The Islanders retained their two goal cushion until late in the second period when the Hurricanes rattled off a pair of goals in 45 seconds to tie the game.
Immediately following an Islanders penalty, the puck took a strange bounce off a faceoff in the Islanders zone and headed toward Kevin Poulin. As the fluttering puck came down, Eric Staal batted it out of midair past the netminder for his ninth tally of the season at 18:28.
Jordan Staal followed his brother’s example with a goal in transition. His shot from high in the zone changed direction off the stick of an Islanders defenseman and went over Poulin’s shoulder.
Semin earned primary assists on both goals and finished with three points on the night.
“That’s just the way it goes sometimes and we have to bounce back and have good shifts,” Tavares said. “But we didn’t. We were just sloppy and didn’t do the things in the second half that made us successful in the first half of the game.”
The Islanders continue their seven-game home stand Tuesday when they play host to the Boston Bruins. The Bruins won the lone meeting between the two teams on Jan. 25, but this will be the first matchup at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
Notes: Frans Nielsen took a game-high five shots on goal … Matt Martin led all players with six hits … Mark Streit and Matt Moulson tied for a game-high three blocked shots … Mark Streit led the team for the second consecutive night in ice time, appearing in a game-high 25:08 … The Islanders lost the faceoff battle 33-31, but were led by Casey Cizikas (8-for-10, 80%) and Marty Reasoner (9-for-13, 69%) ... Radek Martinek made his season debut, logging 14:51 of ice time, three hits and one blocked shot.