Mar 25, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders forward Matt Martin (17) watches his shot get past the Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin (31) for his second period goal at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
By giving up four goals in the first 11 minutes of play, the Carolina Hurricanes fell in a hole that they could not escape to the New York Islanders, eventually falling by a 5-4 score.
The awful start began with Ryan Strome winning an offensive zone faceoff against Eric Staal, back to Travis Hamonic, who shot from the point. Colin McDonald fought for the rebound and slammed it past Cam Ward.
The second goal was nearly the exact same as Strome won the draw, back to his defenseman, who took the shot. This time Cal Clutterbuck scored on the contested rebound.
McDonald scored his second of the game less than a minute later as Calvin De Haan circled behind the Hurricanes’ net and McDonald was left wide open on the far side.
Cam Ward was replaced by Anton Khudobin after this.
The Islanders’ fourth straight goal came off a weird play when Khudobin made a routine save, then lost the puck. Matt Martin found it to the left, while Khudobin was to the right and scored on the open net.
Jeff Skinner got the Canes on the board when he took a pass from Andrei Loktionov in on the slot on the powerplay, shot, collected his rebound, went to the backhand and put the puck over a sprawling Anders Nilsson.
Loktionov tracked down a puck in the neutral zone, in the skates of Hamonic and went on a breakaway. After waiting out Nilsson, the Russian had most of the net to shoot at on the left side.
Alexander Semin scored the Canes’ second power-play goal in the second period as Jordan Staal passed him the puck from the right side of the net to the other side. Semin was left wide open and he one-timed the puck past Nilsson.
Martin got another as more defensive lapses plagued the Hurricanes. Martin was left wide open in the slot as Faulk and Sekera attacked the same player and Strome found Martin for the Isles’ fifth goal of the game.
Just 22 seconds later, Nathan Gerbe got it back as he took a cycle pass from Jordan Staal to the right of the net and sniped it over Nilsson, who should have had the save.
Had the Hurricanes managed to prevent one of those early goals, this game may have been different, but defensive lapses, mainly from Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk and Eric Staal, made it too easy for the Islanders to score.
The trio mentioned above had awful games. Staal improved as the night went on, but the same can’t be said about the two defensemen.
Random rough games seem to follow those two around. It’s unfortunate when it does happen and it now marks two game in a row when it has happened.
However, the team was able to make some-what of a comeback, but I’m not sure if that would have happened against a more-seasoned goalie. Simply put, Anders Nilsson had as rough a night as Sekera and Faulk.
Cam Ward was pulled after the third goal, but none of the blame should be placed on him. New York’s forwards outworked the Hurricanes and while there were opportunities for Ward to make some big saves, he can’t do that every time.
Anton Khudobin had a so-so game. The first goal he allowed was a back-breaker, but it was also a fluky play.
As for some bright spots, I thought Jordan Staal and Andrei Loktionov played great.
Jordan Staal created chances all night with Alexander Semin and even Nathan Gerbe. He continues to play a better game with improved players on his line. However, he did take a dumb tripping penalty 180 feet from his net in the third period.
Loktionov was hard on the puck all night, chasing loose pucks down with his speed and beating Islanders players as shown by his lone goal. He was also hard on the backcheck, which is great to see.
If he keeps it up, expect the Canes to be interested in re-signing the Russian.
The Hurricanes play the Florida Panthers next on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.