Ilya Sorokin kept the New York Islanders in the game, but the power play did it’s best to keep them out of it. The Islanders narrowly fell 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of their Round One series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Monday night at PNC Arena. Although the final score was close, the Islanders’ power play outage haunted their return to the playoffs.
Even with Mat Barzal, who returned to the lineup, the Islanders couldn’t convert on their four man-up opportunities. They challenged Carolina netminder Aanti Raanta with just four shots on goal in eight minutes of powerplay time.
“I thought we had some good looks, certainly early on the powerplay, and though we had some good chances to score,” said Islanders head coach Lane Lambert. “We had some good chances to score, and you know, just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
The Islanders had a grade-A chance on the man advantage in the first period with a crisp passing play that set up Anders Lee all alone in front of the net. However, the captain couldn’t finish and sent the puck wide. Carolina’s penalty kill became progressively harder to crack.
“I think it came down a little bit to entries at times,” Lambert said. “I thought we potentially go a little stubborn at times trying to bring the puck in.”
The greatest missed opportunity came with the Islanders trailing 2-1 late in the third period. With less than five minutes to go in the third, Barzal drew a cross-check by Brent Burns behind the Carolina goal. Instead of lighting the lamp or peppering Raanta with shots, the Islanders too often opted to pass.
While the Islanders continued their year-long impotence on the man advantage, the Hurricanes recognized its importance. After Hudson Fasching was called for tripping, Sebastian Aho got Carolina on the board with just about four minutes gone by in the first period. As Adam Pelech inexplicably lost Aho in coverage, Carolina’s leading goal scorer in the regular season blasted a one-timer past Ilya Sorokin from the right circle just five seconds into the powerplay.
Midway through the second period, Ryan Pulock tied up Stefan Mason to prevent him from scoring into a wide-open net but was sent to the penalty box for a questionable slashing call by referee Jon McIssac. Moments later, Mason deflected a Burns shot from the blue line to increase Carolina’s lead to 2-0.
Even after Pulock redeemed himself with a goal off the rush that cut the deficit back to one, the Islanders couldn’t make up the rest.
The Hurricanes outshot the Islanders 37-26 as Sorokin made 35 saves in goal.
The New York Islanders will try to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday, with puck drop slated for 7 p.m.