The Islanders had their three-game winning streak snapped Saturday night, falling 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes at Nassau Coliseum.
Hurricanes forwards Jordan Staal and Brett Sutter broke open a 1-1 draw, scoring 57 seconds apart in the second period. The Islanders rallied for a goal in the final minute of play, but could not find the equalizer in the dying seconds of regulation, as they fell to Carolina for the third time this season.
“On two of the goals, we had the puck on our stick,” Head coach Jack Capuano said. “[We gave them] three gifts and on two of them, we had possession of the puck [and gave it up]. Puck decisions are what get us into trouble.”
Capuano called out his team’s defensive performance. Staal and Sutter’s goals came off odd-man rushes, while Manny Malhotra scored the game’s first goal after going undetected in the slot.
“I missed an assignment on the second goal and from there on out we lost the momentum for a few minutes and before we knew it, it was 3-1,” Thomas Vanek said. “It’s not good enough. They were good enough to capitalize on their chances.”
The Islanders responded quickly after the Malhotra goal, as Tavares finished a give-and-go with Vanek 44 seconds later to tie the score at one. Tavares maneuvered the pass from backhand to his forehand in tight and then pulled the puck around a sprawling Anton Khubodin for his team-leading 17th goal.
The Islanders generated plenty of scoring opportunities, but were stymied by the Canes netminder, who made 38 saves in the win. Khudobin stopped Tavares and Michael Grabner on breakaways and came up with a game-saving glove save on Andrew MacDonald at the final horn. Nabokov made 27 saves in the loss.
“We gave up point-blank chances and it’s hard for Nabby to get set and make the saves, but other than that, I don’t think we gave them a lot,” Tavares said. “We had chances and we can be a lot better than we were tonight, but I don’t think there is anything to panic about. We need to get right back to what was making us successful over the last two games.”
The Islanders wrap up their three-game homestand Monday night against the Dallas Stars before embarking on a six-game road trip. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Thomas Vanek extended his point streak to eight games (matching a career high) with a goal and an assist… Kyle Okposo’s eight-game point streak was ended… Tavares has seven points (4g/3a) in four games since returning from injury… Andrew MacDonald has six assists on a four-game point streak… Travis Hamonic led the Islanders with 25:18 TOI… Eric Staal left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury and did not return.