The New York Islanders 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center was hard felt by the Isles, who set out to make a positive start to their three-game, five-day road trip to the Sunshine State by way of Raleigh.
“We worked our bag off,” Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said. “Guys really battled. There are a lot of battles in front of the net. They were coming. They’re a team that’s playing very desperate hockey right now, so we fell up short again.”
Clearly disappointed by the loss, Hamonic said the team still worked extremely hard for one another, evidenced by the amount of chances they put up. After falling behind by a one-goal deficit, the Islanders fought back, outscoring them 2-1 through the first 40 minutes of play as they put up 30 shots on goal to the Canes 19.
“I thought the guys did a good job battling,” Hamonic said. “They really worked hard. We battled through for each other.”
But the Islanders couldn’t hold on to the lead. When the puck dropped in third period, the Hurricanes blew the Islanders away and leveled the score, sending the game into overtime.
“For the first 40 minutes, we were taking it to them and then they played one great period in the third,” goaltender Al Montoya said. “Somewhere there, we have to break the momentum or try to get it back. But you have to give them credit, they came hard. They needed those two points.”
But veteran goaltender Cam Ward came up big for the Hurricanes, earning the first star of the game after making 35 saves on 37 shots – including quite a few stops on Islanders breakaway opportunities.
“(Cam Ward) is an elite goalie,” Hamonic said. “I thought we generated a lot of chances. He made a couple big saves and they had a lot of pressure on us, especially in the third period.”
Even though Ward earned the win and first star honors, Montoya worked just as hard between the pipes, making 32 saves on 35 shots.
“Al (Montoya) has been doing that since he got here,” Hamonic said. “He’s been battling, working really hard, making the big saves and he’s really given us the chance to win every night.”
Rookie forward Jeff Skinner put the Hurricanes on the scoreboard at 13:33, but Islanders center Frans Nielsen came through to tie the score just 1:19 later (at 17:52).
In the second stanza, Islanders rookie Michael Grabner gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead (3:10), which the Islanders were able to hold on to through 32:13 of play, but as the Hurricanes held onto the momentum and peppered Montoya with shots, Erik Cole tied the score at 15:23 of the third.
Grabner, Nielsen and Skinner all had a goal and an assist, but the points put up by Nielsen helped the Islanders center establish new career highs in points (40), scoring his 10th goal of the season and 30th assist.